Page 18 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
Editor’s Introduction
his issue of
Te Foreign Service
spotlights a cause
that the American Foreign
Service Association has long
championed: the promotion
of diversity within the Foreign
Service, both in terms of its membership and
as an institution representing the United States
across the globe. While we have explored that
topic in various ways over the years, this is the
frst time we have done so in a concentrated
Regrettably, diversity was not a major
concern for AFSA’s founders in 1924, nor for
several decades thereafter—much less a goal
to be actively pursued. But by the 1960s, even a cursory examina-
tion of the pages of
Te Foreign Service Journal
reveals a growing
consciousness among the association’s leaders, andmembership,
that the Foreign Service did not truly refect the shifting demo-
graphics, and values, of the society it represented abroad. Tat is
one of the reasons why AFSA was a key proponent of the Foreign
Service Act of 1980, which declared that “members of the Foreign
Service should be representative of the American people.”
By the 1990s, AFSA had formally recognized theTursday
Luncheon Group, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Afairs Agen-
cies, and several other organizations as afnity groups. It has also
consistently lobbied the Department of State, U.S. Agency for
International Development and other foreign afairs agencies to
set upmechanisms through which to recruit qualifed women and
minorities for the Foreign Service, and eliminate barriers afecting
assignments and promotions to encourage
them to stay.
In conjunction with AFSA’s yearlong
celebration of its 75th anniversary, the May
1999 issue of
Te Foreign Service Journal
a special commemorative edition devoted
entirely to that milestone. As you can see on
this page, its cover vividly encapsulates a uni-
fying theme of that issue: the transformation
of the modern Foreign Service over the same
period, going back to the May 1924 passage of
the Rogers Act.
In her congratulatory letter to AFSA,
published in that issue, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright declared: “Te Foreign
Service of today is very diferent from that of 1924. Women, previ-
ously relegated largely to supporting roles and denied the option
to combine family and career, are an ever-increasing component
of the Service. We also now recognize the importance of a Foreign
Service which truly refects the diversity of America, and we will
continue our concerted eforts to attract the best and brightest
from across the entire spectrumof American society.”
Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?
We have indeedmade real progress toward that goal, par-
ticularly whenmeasured against the situation in 1980, when the
current Foreign Service Act was passed. AFSA President Susan
R. Johnson observed in her December 2012 President’s Views
column, “Building a Truly Diverse, Professional Foreign Service,”
that “members of the Foreign Service [then] were overwhelmingly
The May 1999