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8

JUNE 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion

BY SHAWN DORMAN

T

Shawn Dorman is the editor of

The Foreign Service Journal.

to evolve, pick up speed and gain vis-

ibility. We begin our focus with a look

at the current highest-profile diversity

and inclusion issue, rights for LGBT

persons (a category that encompasses

lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender

individuals, but can include other gender

identities and allies, as well). All eyes are

on the Supreme Court and its imminent

decision on marriage equality.

The foreign affairs agencies continue

to grapple with the changing landscape,

both internally for their employees and

externally, as they manage and advance

diversity and inclusion issues.

This spring, the State Department

established a new position—Special

Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT

Persons—and tapped FSO Randy Berry

to carry the message of inclusivity both at

home and abroad. Just before taking up

his post in May, Mr. Berry told us about

plans for the new role and the ways he’ll

try to coordinate across federal agencies

to ensure that the U.S. approach to the

global protection of the rights of LGBT

persons is consistent and focused on tan-

gible results. Find out more in that Q&A,

“Aiming for Sustainable Progress.”

In “How Far We’ve Come, How Far

We Have to Go,” GLIFAA President Selim

Ariturk offers his take on progress for both

the group—founded in 1992 as Gays and

Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies—and

the issue, and challenges that remain.

Next, FSO Richmond Blake presents

an overview of how the United States is

working overseas to promote an LGBT-

inclusive human rights agenda.

In our Speaking Out column,

“Employee Plus One: Marriage and the

War for Talent,” retired Ambassador

Michael Guest lauds the major steps

toward equality LGBT federal employees

have taken, but warns that this is not the

right time for State to end the Same-Sex

Domestic Partners program.

Considering diversity and inclusion

more broadly, FSO Lia Miller looks at

two innovative programs that help bring

diversity into the Foreign Service, the

Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs

Fellowship and the Charles B. Rangel

International Affairs Program. Then

Consul General Jennifer Zimdahl Galt

and entry-level FSOThao Anh Tran team

up to discuss the power of mentorship

to sustain that diversity into the senior

ranks.

Finally, in “Making Diversity Real,”

four affinity groups—Disability Action

Group, Blacks In Government, Execu-

tive Women @ State and the newly

established Arab-Americans in Foreign

Affairs—give an overview of their work.

We will feature other affinity groups in

future issues of the

Journal

.

As Amb. Pickering and Amb. Perkins

say in their

Washington Post

op-ed, “U.S.

foreign policy is informed and improved

by a wider range of experiences, under-

standings and outlooks. To represent

America abroad and relate to the world

beyond our borders, the nation needs

diplomats whose family stories, language

skills, religious traditions and cultural

sensitivities help them to establish con-

nections and avoid misunderstandings.”

Read on to find out more about how

that’s going.

n

he Foreign Service Act of 1980

says that the United States

should have a professional

Foreign Service that is repre-

sentative of the American people. The 2015

Quadrennial Diplomacy and Develop-

ment Review for the State Department

and USAID echoes that call. But does the

Foreign Service look like America? Not yet.

“The Foreign Service Is Too White,”

Ambassadors Thomas R. Pickering and

Edward J. Perkins lament in a May 18

Washington Post

op-ed. The most recent

statistics available from State’s Office

of Human Resources show that as of

2012, 80 percent of State FS officers and

specialists were white, 7 percent black, 5.7

percent Hispanic/Latino and 6.6 percent

Asian-American. Of the total, 34.8 percent

were women. In contrast, the U.S. popula-

tion in 2013 was about 62 percent white,

17 percent Hispanic/Latino, 12 percent

black and 5 percent Asian-American. Of

the total, 51 percent were women.

Those numbers do not tell the whole

story, of course. For about the last 20

years, the State Department recruitment

division has prioritized bringing inmore

minority candidates, chiefly by working to

raise awareness among underrepresented

groups of the Foreign Service as a potential

career path. But awareness and hiring are

only the first major hurdles. The next is

retention, and the jury

is still out on that.

Meanwhile, the

national conversation

about diversity and

inclusion continues