The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 33 A Clear Mandate for Change In June 2015, the Office of the Inspector General reported that while formal sexual harassment complaints had almost tripled from 88 in Fiscal Year 2011 to 248 in Fiscal Year 2014, there was a need for senior department officials to “emphasize the need for timely action” and “hold individuals accountable” in these cases. In its report, “Inspection of the Office of Civil Rights, ” the OIG also pointed to the lack of mandatory harassment training for all employees. The November 2014 OIG report on State’s disciplinary process cited previously had also found that there was a lack of supervi- sor accountability for employee misconduct related to sexual harassment, that guides for supervisors in handling misconduct needed updating, that there was no policy requiring recusal of key offices involved in assault or harassment investigations when the accused was one of their own, and that the depart- ment at various levels delayed at least some investigations into sexual assault or misbehavior. The OIG recommended, among other things, that HR revise the Decision Criteria for Tenure and Promotion in the Foreign Service to include the responsibility to deal with misconduct. The OIG also made a number of recom- mendations to improve procedures, including full implementa- tion of a common tracking and reporting system. State has taken too long to address these challenges. It was not until December 2015 that DS security clearance question- naires provided an exemption for survivors of sexual assault who had sought mental health counseling related to their attack. (They no longer need to disclose that they sought counseling.) And although regulations and internal standard operating pro- cedures concerning sexual assaults involving chief-of-mission personnel and facilities outside the United States have been in place for some time, particularly on the DS side, as of June 2017 they were for the first time brought together as a comprehen- sive, standalone provision of the Foreign Affairs Manual (3 FAM 1710). Now the global #MeToo campaign has intensified the spot- light on the problem. And in Jan. 12 remarks to State Department colleagues, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson specifically spoke out against sexual harassment, enjoined supervisors to ensure respectful workplaces and promised that worldwide sexual harassment training would be completed by June 1 of this year. On Jan. 17, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to Secretary Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green regarding sexual harassment and abuse in the agencies, noting: “These incidents and the pervasive culture that all too frequently excuses these behaviors and actions have had serious and detri- The State Department should adopt and implement a “no tolerance” policy for sexual harassment, abuse and assault. Locally employed staff mem- bers are uniquely vulner- able to sexual harassment at overseas missions. After I became an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor I was dismayed to discover there are limited rem- edies under the current EEO system for LE staff to pursue. They are precluded from filing formal complaints and must instead engage in mediation sessions. There is little incentive to come forward, and these women often feel they have everything to lose. While retaliation is prohibited, the onus is on victims to bring forward another complaint alleg- ing retaliation. Furthermore, many LE staff are afraid that they will be subject to office gossip and loss of reputation. Principal deputy assistant secretary visiting post: mar- ried, white male, 50s. After a no-host dinner and drinks with embassy staff, he says to me, the control officer, “OK, it’s time to go to bed”—in front of everyone. His staffer (male, 30s, Civil Service) and I went in motor pool car to take him back to hotel. Men in back, me up front with driver. Halfway to hotel, PDAS claps me on shoulder and says, “Hey, where are the girls around here? Oh wait, you won’t know that.” # # #StateToo #StateToo