Page 21 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MAY 2013
21
DIVERSITY AND
CULTURAL COMPETENCE
:
MISSION-CRITICAL
ELEMENTS OF
U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
To prioritize diversity, organizations like the
State Department must think boldly, beyond the legacy
paradigms of “afrmative action,” “diversity” or “inclusion.”
BY ERNEST J . WI LSON I I I
I
n today’s globalizing, fast-changing, networked world, the
capacity to turn diversity to one’s advantage is critical. It is
not just a nice thing to do; it is a must. As America and the
world have changed dramatically, diversity has become a
widespread organizational imperative—from Google to the
Defense Department.
Yet if we agree that “diversity” is essential to achieving orga-
nizational goals, how do we defne it in practical ways? How do
we embrace it while maintaining other essential values? And
Ernest J. Wilson III is the Walter H. Annenberg Chair of Communica-
tion and dean of the Annenberg School of Communication and Jour-
nalism at the University of Southern California. A former National
Security Council stafer and an Africa specialist on Capitol Hill, he
has also been a consultant at the World Bank and the United Na-
tions. He is the author of
Diversity and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Reader
(Routledge, 2004). Tis article is adapted from his keynote address on
“Diversity, Inclusion and U.S. Foreign Policy,” delivered at a June 7,
2012, panel discussion at the State Department.
FOCUS
DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE
how do we confront challenges like the fact that the percent-
age of people of color at the State Department is declining, not
growing?
Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited
me to chair a panel designed to address the issues of innovtion
and diversity. Very senior people in the department partici-
pated in our deliberations, as did members from the private
sector, higher education and other government agencies.
We were charged to develop proposals to better foster
innovation and promote diversity at State, on the assumption
that the department was operating in a turbulent international
environment requiring 21st-century statecraft—and 21st-cen-
tury talent.
To carry out this responsibility, I drew on many years of
experience observing and participating in the design and con-
duct of U.S. foreign policy from multiple vantage points: as a
member of the senior National Security Council staf, an Africa
specialist on Capitol Hill, in foreign policy think-tanks like the
Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and