The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 20

MARCH 2014
Report to the Transition Team by the
Hispanic Council. In 2005, Hispanics
comprised 4.1 percent of the USAID work
But by 2008 the percentage had begun
slipping, and in 2012 it stood at just 2.6
percent. This is despite a significant
surge in overall hiring at USAID, a surge
that has stopped and will likely usher in
years of limited hiring—meaning that
a golden opportunity to improve these
dismal numbers may have been lost for
some time.
Learning from Our Past
Here’s where the story gets really
interesting. Back in the 1960s, USAID’s
top foreign policy priority (other than
the VietnamWar) was combating com-
Hispanics in the Federal Workplace and USAID,
2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Percent of
Hispanics in
Federal Workforce
Percent of
Fiscal Year
Percent in Workforce
munism in Latin America. In reaction
to a perceived communist threat to
Latin America, USAID quickly ramped
up Hispanic hiring, with no pretense of
promoting affirmative action or diver-
sity. Old-timers I met when I first began
working with USAID in the 1980s told me
that recruiters went to Puerto Rico and
scooped up graduates, some of whom
stayed on with the agency until about the
Perusing the 1970 staffing pattern,
which one can find in the recesses of
the USAID Library, one finds Hispanic
surnames galore: Cabrera, Hernan-
dez, Hinojosa, Romero, Vasquez, etc.
The Office of Public Safety lists 11 such
surnames out of 106, or about 10 percent
of the staff. The 1970 USAID mission
roster in Bolivia shows an even higher
number—six out of 45, including the
deputy director, or 13.3 percent—while
the Dominican Republic staffing pattern
features five Hispanic names out of 46,
10.9 percent.
Admittedly, this is an imperfect mea-
sure. But it does indicate that when hiring
large numbers of Hispanics was linked
to a national priority, the agency made it
That brings us to the third explanation
for the current shortfall in Hispanic hir-
ing: “Back in the 1960s and 1970s, USAID
would hire people straight out of college.
Now you need a graduate degree. And it’s
hard to find Hispanics with that qualifica-
Un momento. Yes, graduate degrees
are required for most positions (although
that practice should be re-examined).
But what the assertion ignores is that
the number of Hispanics with master’s
degrees has more than doubled over the
past decade, and the numbers earning
law and doctoral degrees have shot up by
60 percent over the same period.
Is better recruitment the answer?
USAID’s Human Resources division and
Office of Civil Rights and Diversity have
launched some sincere efforts in this
regard, and more resources should be
devoted to recruitment. But I suspect
these efforts may be falling short because
of the disconnect between recruitment
and the technical panels, which actually
select candidates and are less focused on
diversity goals.
I should know. I’ve served on these
And Then There Were Four
Recruitment is to the lower ranks of
the agency, with the hope that a greater
pool of junior officers will eventually
push its way up the ranks. Little thought
USAID is at the bottom among federal
agencies in Hispanic representation.
Sources: OPM Eleventh Annual Report, July 2012; USAID/M/HR, Annual Federal Equal
Opportunity Recruitment Program, FY 2001; ICF Consulting, Incorporating Affirmative
Employment Goals into USAID’s Work-force Strategies, Oct. 15, 2005; Office of Equal
Opportunity Programs, Diversity Profile FY 2007-FY 2008, Nov. 14, 2008; OCRD Diversity
Profiles, June 2012.
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