Page 41 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MAY 2013
41
words, these employers have created a map to allow women
to fnd their way through what some experts have called “the
labyrinth of leadership.”
Guides, Not Quotas
Employee groups also have an important role to play. For
example, Executive Women at State has played a key role in
providing career guidance to women through various pro-
grams, including mentoring workshops. A recent program
about the deputy chief of mission/chief of mission selection
process led one female attendee to apply for a DCM position
she had not considered because she’d assumed she wouldn’t
be selected. She went on to secure the position and is thriv-
ing in the assignment—proving that targeted programs of this
nature are both needed and efective.
Importantly, these policies do not in any way resemble
quotas. Moreover, even though this article is focused on
gender diversity, it should be clear that all groups would
beneft from the establishment of a more diverse and inclusive
organizational culture. Although the scope of this article does
not allow me to review the policies in detail, they are outlined
in full in my end-of-year report, along with a list of specifc
recommendations for State to consider (please see the sidebar
on pp. 42-43).
Broadly, these policies fall into the categories of profes-
sional and talent development, work-life integration, and
networking and mentoring. Leading organizations provide
training to help women hone their communication, negotia-
tion and self-advocacy skills to overcome the gendered norms
of leadership that research has shown continue to favor male
leaders.
Women’s career development is then carefully charted.
A strong mentoring program is established to overcome the
tendency for male leaders to expend political capital to help
male mentees get ahead, in spite of the fact that they may also
be mentoring women.
After all the care we take to recruit minority candidates, I
can’t help but feel we then leave them to fend for themselves
in a complex system of bidding rules and programs, like the
Career Development Plan, that put the onus on employees to
chart their own way to the Senior Foreign Service. It’s easy to
see why those outside established networks will be at a disad-
vantage in such a system, and why they need a guide through
the labyrinth.
Equal emphasis should be placed on raising awareness
among managers of the ways unconscious biases can dis-
advantage women—to ensure that their work performance
is rated on purely objective criteria—and building metrics
related to diversity and inclusion goals into performance
evaluation. Some organizations rate managers and executives
on their involvement and performance as mentors, thereby
ensuring that this key executive responsibility receives its due.
Many organizations include the establishment of a more
fexible work environment as a specifc goal for managers.
Parallel with that efort, however, they put measures in place
to ensure that those who avail themselves of fexible work
arrangements do not put their career advancement at risk,
thereby avoiding the dead end of a “mommy track.” As things
currently stand, our system is set up in such a way that FSOs
(female and male) are discouraged by the bidding and promo-
tion process from seeking out fexible arrangements.
For employers of choice, inclusiveness is intrinsic, and pol-
icies are developed in close consultation with women in the
organization and the employee groups that represent them.
Frequent opinion surveys and the convening of focus group
discussions are the norm, with collected data used to calibrate
ongoing programs in areas that range from training and career
development to work-life programs.
The proportion of women in the
senior ranks took until 2005 to
break the 30-percent mark, and
has hovered there ever since.