Page 34 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2
tailments of assignments and broken families. (If anyone
undertook an analysis of divorce rates within the Foreign
Service community, they would probably find them
shockingly high.)
How Uncle Sam Can Help
What can State and the other foreign affairs agencies
do to improve the outlook for EFMs seeking meaning-
ful employment? While it’s up to spouses to define their
career goals and find jobs, federal agencies can create a
robust framework to enable as many spouses as possible
to work outside the embassy or consulate. Specifically,
they should:
• Negotiate more bilateral work agreements to ex-
pand the list of potential countries where diplomatic
spouses and partners can work, and press host govern-
ments to ensure reciprocal issuance of work visas.
• Provide more job-hunting resources for spouses at
embassies and consulates, ideally staffed by headhunting
professionals with substantial contacts in multiple indus-
tries. Additionally, they can expand existing resources by
contracting with headhunting services.
• Enact more generous policies regarding a leave of
absence for a Foreign Service employee whose spouse
has specific professional needs (particularly in regard to
tandem couples).
• Give the same consideration to spouses’ profes-
sional goals during the assignments process that tandem
spouses receive.
Happy, fulfilled spouses and partners enhance the
outreach of the U.S. mission, for they serve as tremen-
dous public outreach models in their local communities.
To retain talent and encourage diversity at all levels, es-
pecially in the senior ranks, management in the various
Foreign Services agencies must pay greater attention to
spousal employment needs.
When family members thrive in the local economy,
that conveys a positive message to our partners and allies
around the world — just like the successful launch of
the “Husbands of Chennai” calendar.