On June 9, the American Academy of Diplomacy called on the State Department to improve diversity in its ranks. It says that it believes that “a diplomatic service and other representatives of US foreign policy need to look like America, an essential part of representing our country abroad.” Excerpt:
The State Department falls short of this goal. Women and minorities continue to be significantly underrepresented in the Department of State, most glaringly in the senior ranks. Out of 189 U.S. Ambassadors serving abroad today, there are three African American and four Hispanic career diplomats. Thus, the Academy supports the following five commitments, the implementation of which can begin immediately:
1. The Department of State should publicly and repeatedly reaffirm and strengthen its previous commitments to establish a culture of diversity and inclusion in the Department of State. The Director General of the Foreign Service’s recent call for employees to engage in honest conversations with their peers is a good start.
2. The Department of State should expand and seek to substantially and verifiably increase the recruitment of minorities and women. This should include outreach to historically minority-serving institutions, increasing the number of Diplomats in Residence at these institutions, increasing the number of internships from minority and women candidates, and targeting future minority and women candidates starting at the high school level.The Department should significantly expand its ROTC-like fellowship programs for aspiring minority officers.
3. The Department of State should strengthen existing mentorship programs to specifically support minority and women officers. Senior officers should be assigned to mentor and sponsor younger officers from different backgrounds than their own. The Department should study best practices of how corporations sponsor future leaders who are minorities and women.
4. The Department of State should work to increase the assignment and promotions of minority and women candidates to the senior ranks and positions of the Foreign Service. A special effort should be placed on the retention of middle and senior level officers.
5. The Department should establish a culture of accountability for officers to ensure that they fulfill their diversity and inclusion objectives.