The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 19

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MARCH 2014
19
n
You need a graduate degree to
obtain most positions in USAID, and the
pool of Hispanics with graduate degrees
is limited.
P
eriodically, I am asked to
speak to Hispanic and minor-
ity students aspiring to enter
the Foreign Service or the U.S.
Agency for International Development.
I can hardly resist the chance to tell my
own life story and describe the places
where USAID has sent me. The Foreign
Service is a great career, I tell them, and
I encourage them to consider taking the
plunge.
One reason I’m tapped to give these
speeches is that I’m a 25-year veteran of
the Foreign Service, and also a member
of an endangered species: mid-level
Hispanic FSOs. My agency is sincerely
trying to recruit a more diverse work-
force, but has consistently failed in terms
of Hispanic representation since the late
1970s, when data on ethnicity began to
be collected.
Recently I asked several members of
USAID’s senior leadership and Office
of Civil Rights and Diversity for their
thoughts on why the agency’s record is
so poor. Here are some of the responses
I got:
n
This is a governmentwide problem,
and USAID does as well as or better than
other U.S. agencies.
n
Things are getting better.
SPEAKING OUT
Hispanic Representation at USAID:
Why So Low for So Long?
BY JOSÉ GARZÓN
José Garzón, a 25-year veteran of the USAID Foreign Service, is currently deputy director of the agency’s Office of Conflict
Management and Mitigation in Washington, D.C. He has served in Bolivia, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Wash-
ington, D.C., and is the author of “Democracy and Development Reconsidered,” published in
USAID Frontiers in Develop-
ment
(2012). In 2013, he was the first to utilize the newly created USAID Direct Channel, writing on the subject of the small
number of Hispanics in the USAID Foreign Service.
A social scientist by training, I decided
to peek behind the curtain and examine
the evidence. It turns out that all these
responses are wrong.
Re-Examining the
Conventional Wisdom
First, let’s take the assertion that
USAID is “doing no worse than everyone
else.” Oh yes, it is. As the table to the left,
based on the most recent data from the
Office of Personnel Management and
USAID, shows, USAID is at the bottom
among federal agencies in Hispanic
representation. The percent of Hispanics
at the State Department is about twice as
high as at USAID, and in the case of State
Foreign Service specialists (at 8 percent),
almost three times as high.
Well, at least it’s “getting better,” con-
sistent with demographic trends, right?
No, it’s actually getting worse.
True, Hispanic representation in the
U.S. government is improving, rising from
6.5 percent in 2000 to 8.1 percent in 2011,
according to OPM’s Eleventh Annual
Report. But at USAID, the trend is slip-
ping backward. Twenty years ago official
USAID/EEO staffing reports showed a
Hispanic workforce of 3.1 percent out of
3,346 employees, according to the 1992
Sources: OPM: Eleventh Annual
Report to the President on Hispanic
Employment in the Federal Government,
July 2012; USAID/OCRD Diversity
HISPANICS IN SELECTED
U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Department Percentage of Hispanics
in Workforce in 2011
(State data is from 2013)
Homeland Security
20.9
Social Security Administration 14.3
Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission
13.4
Justice
8.7
Housing & Urban Development
7.0
Veterans Affairs
6.8
NASA
6.2
State (combined FSO, FSS,
Civil Service)
5.9
State FS Specialist
8.0
State FS Generalist
5.0
State Senior FS
4.6
Health & Human Services
3.2
USAID (including FS & CS)
2.6
USAID FS
2.5
USAID SFS
2.2
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