Page 42 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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y September 2011 report, “Advance-
ment for Women at State: Learning
from Best Practices,” includes the fol-
lowing recommendations to transform
State into a more female- and family-
friendly organization. I strongly recommend that State,
with support from the Una Chapman Cox Foundation,
create a commission or contract with an outside orga-
nization to study the gender problem holistically.
Someone within the Ofce of Human Resources
or the Ofce of Civil Rights should be given explicit
responsibility for ensuring the success of women,
working closely with groups such as Executive Women
at State. The Ofce of Global Women’s Issues should
also pay greater attention to how women within State
are faring.
The following measures would help transform the
department into an organization more sensitive to the
needs of women and make State a model for other for-
eign afairs agencies to emulate. At the same time, this
would enable the department to better embody the
empowerment of women that it is promoting abroad:
• Begin collecting detailed attrition data on female
Foreign Service employees, and conduct exit interviews
to better understand the factors leading to attrition
and retention.
• Request that the Ofce of Personnel Management
break out Foreign Service employees’ responses in
next year’s Employee Viewpoint Survey, with answers
to specifc questions by gender. This would provide
an excellent snapshot of how both female and male
Foreign Service employees feel about State policies,
particularly when it comes to work-life balance and
family friendly policies.
• Construct any future survey State conducts on
issues related to quality of life so that the views of
Foreign Service employees, broken out by gender, can
be analyzed.
• Consider undertaking focus group discussions
within State on work-life balance and family-friendly
policies. Of particular use would be surveys to deter-
mine what employees value when it comes to work-life
benefts, and what they would be willing to trade of to
achieve a better balance.
• Analyze the Women in International Security study
to identify areas that merit follow-up. The study is
available on the WIIS Web site.
• Survey women in the Foreign Service to determine
how widespread forms of non-overt bias are and what
policy response might be required.
• Include a discussion of non-overt forms of gender
bias in training for supervisors and all State leadership
• Follow up such training with action plans for
employees to use to recognize and overcome biases.
Tie success in accomplishing these goals to perfor-
mance evaluations.
• Task the Federal Women’s Program and Equal
Employment Opportunity ofcers with disseminating
information on gender bias and holding programs on
this topic in Washington and overseas.
• Determine whether demand warrants an expan-
sion of the Diplotots and Foreign Service Institute
child-care facilities, and whether assistance should be
provided for emergency child-care needs.
• Publicize the services available through State’s
Employee Assistance Program. In particular, include
information on the check-in sheet given to all Foreign
Service employees reassigned to Washington, since
this is a time when many employees are in need of
such assistance.
• Survey the Foreign Service population to get a
clearer picture of how concerns about spousal employ-
ment afect employees’ bidding/assignment decisions.
• Ensure the Family Liaison Ofce has adequate
funding to expand initiatives to help spouses/partners
secure local employment or develop portable careers.
Such eforts should include identifying work opportuni-
ties with locally based multinationals.
• Learn more about the eforts of other agencies
with an overseas presence, such as the Central Intel-
ligence Agency.
• Redouble eforts to secure bilateral work agreements
to facilitate the local employment of spouses/partners.
• Modify FLO programs to take into greater account
Learning from Best Practices
MAY 2013