Page 19 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
white andmale, and had often graduated from a handful of elite
institutions. Tree decades later, the Service has become largely
representative of American diversity in terms of ethnicity/race,
gender, geography, age, educational background and work experi-
As she notes, “Tis success is the result of a variety of recruit-
ment measures adopted over the years (some more efective than
others), which have steadily increasedminority representation. A
2009 study commissioned by the Department of State concluded
that the procedures currently in place for recruitment and testing
attract a diverse pool of applicants, and that this diversity also
characterizes those who qualify for entry.”
But the work is far fromdone, Johnson cautions: “We need new
approaches to attract qualifed African-Americans and Hispanics.”
Te numbers bear out both the positive trends and the work yet
to be done. According to the Foreign Service promotion statistics
published in th
e June 2012 issue of
which were
gender-disaggregated for the frst time ever—the 2011 overall
promotion rate for all eligible generalists was 31.8 percent (29.1
percent for males and 36.8 percent for females). Broken down by
ethnicity and race, that rate was 31.8 percent for whites, 27 percent
for African-Americans, 29.4 percent for Hispanic-Americans, 40.1
percent for Asians and 50 percent for Native Americans in 2011.
Te 2011 overall promotion rate for all eligible specialists was 17
percent (17 percent for males and 17.2 percent for females). Broken
down by ethnicity and race, that rate was 17.7 percent for whites,
15.6 percent for African-Americans, 14.3 percent for Hispanic-
Americans, 14.9 percent for Asians and 11.1 percent for Native
Americans in 2011.
A Mission-Critical Concern
In “Diversity and Cultural Competence,” Ernest J. Wilson III,
dean of the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism
at the University of Southern California, addresses the diversity
issue in terms of the imperative to recruit and retain high-quality
talent (p. 21).
Te new global reality for American foreign policy, he argues,
is characterized by what he terms “double diversity.” Domestically,
the United States is rapidly becoming a majority-minority country;
meanwhile, the rise of powers such as India and China is changing
the rules of global engagement, making diversity a factor in power
It is not only urgent for the foreign afairs agencies to continue
to recruit a more diverse cadre, but to incorporate and engage
these talented individuals with diverse perspectives into an organi-
zational culture that is welcoming, innovative and generative.
Tis means putting a premiumon what Wilson calls “cultural
competence,” which he defnes broadly as “the capacity to think,
act andmove easily across borders, whether national, cultural or
institutional, to pursue one’s goals efectively.”
Getting the View from the Advocacy Groups
To shed further light on whether the diversity glass is half-full or
half-empty, we invited all AFSA afnity groups to contribute their
perspectives to this issue. Our thanks to those who did so.
Just fve years after its founding, Executive Women at State has
already become a strong advocate of gender parity and diversity,
within the Foreign Service and Civil Service. Cynthia Saboe, its cur-
rent president, describes the group’s mission in “EW@S: Support-
ing andMentoring Female Leaders” (p. 25).
TeTursday Luncheon Group, the department’s oldest
employee afnity group, has been “Expanding Opportunities at
State for Four Decades” (p. 28). As TLG President Stacy D. Williams
notes, while TLG’s mainmission is to increase participation by
African-Americans in the formulation, articulation and implemen-
tation of U.S. foreign policy, it also supports more general eforts to
promote the importance of diversity in strengthening the Foreign
and Civil Service workplace.
Four years ago, Steven Giegerich contributed a Speaking Out
column explaining the reasons he saw “Hope for Gay and Lesbian
Foreign Service Employees.” In his follow-up article, “Pride Every
Day” (p. 32), he describes the key role Gays and Lesbians in For-
eign Afairs Agencies has played over the past two decades (with
strong support fromAFSA, it should be noted) tomake many of
those hopes a reality. But as he points out, that job is far fromdone.
In “Celebrating Our Past, Uplifting Our Future” (p. 36), Morgan
McClain-McKinney makes the case that publicizing the contribu-
tions of African-Americans to diplomacy and development work
can help attract young, diverse talent to those careers.
As Margot Carrington notes, she borrows the title of her article,
“How Are FSWomen at State Faring?” (p. 39), from the question
AFSA State Vice President Louise Crane posed in her January
2005 AFSA News column. Ten, as now, the answer appears to be:
Slightly better than before, but not nearly as well as they should be.
Tough that article concludes this month’s focus section, we
hope our coverage sparks continued debate and dialogue about
diversity, both within these pages and in the Foreign Service at
large. Please contact us at
Steven Alan Honley was a Foreign Service ofcer from 1985 to 1997,
serving inMexico City, Wellington andWashington, D.C. He has been
editor of
Te Foreign Service Journal
since 2001.