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10
JANUARY 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
relate to young political leaders as gen-
erational peers.
Now, according to the
Journal
report,
the
average
entry age is 32. Since some
FSOs join while as old as 59, this sug-
gests that fewer than half must still be
in their 20s. If an ambassador wanted
to ensure that his or her embassy had
at least two or three ofcers in their 20s
who might most productively relate to
rising local leaders, could the depart-
ment still deliver today?
In addition to being efective, we all
want our Foreign Service to be repre-
sentative and diverse. But surely the
American age group of 20 to 30 is under-
represented.
Tere are at least three other practical
reasons to consider re-establishment of
32 as the maximum entry age. First, ours
is a career service. If we’re to have the
most experienced Senior Foreign Service,
then expecting 20 to 25 years of positions
en route up seems quite justifed.
Second, having interviewed hun-
dreds of FS candidates while working at
the Board of Examiners, I know that it
is fairly simple to evaluate experience.
But assessing potential is much harder.
Older folks have more experience, while
younger ones may have mostly poten-
tial. And isn’t it the potential for growth
that we’re seeking? Te fairest way to
ensure that those with potential don’t
get overrun by those with much experi-
ence is to restore the 32-year-old cutof.
And fnally, there’s the simple fact of
declining health as we age—and thus
of constricting worldwide availability.
Te older we are when we enter, the
sooner we, and the system, will experi-
ence these limitations. Take it from an
old-timer.
Bob Dickerman
FSO, retired
Swoope, Va.
Diversity at State
Speaking as an EEO counselor, I
believe that we in the State Department
are like one big family. Our new employ-
ees are recruited from such a variety
of backgrounds that they truly refect
diversity in every sense of the word. Tat
is a great beginning, amplifed by the
camaraderie and close relationships we
establish with our co-workers.
Building on this, active education
about the value of diversity through
classes, workshops, symposiums and
individualized instruction should be
ofered and, perhaps, required across the
department. Resources and support must
be given to the responsible programs, and
periodic reviews of their efectiveness,
including individual feedback, should be
conducted.
Still, ofcial programs to promote
diversity can only do so much. Te real
efort must come from the heart to be
efective and meaningful.
Tose whose parents were in the
Foreign Service or military may remem-
ber how they were continually exposed
to people from cultures and backgrounds
diferent than ours. But they were assimi-
lated in school, on sports teams, in places
of worship and so on. Tey experienced
diversity every day, even before there was
a term for it.
All of us in the Foreign Service who
serve overseas have the privilege of expe-
riencing diversity frsthand every day as a
matter of course. But no matter where we
are posted, all of us should refuse to toler-
ate discrimination in any form.
I absolutely believe that the State
Department is and must remain at the
forefront of the U.S. government’s eforts
to achieve this.
Krishna Das
FS Specialist
Washington, D.C.
n