POTUS Issues Memo Promoting Diversity and Inclusion, and @StateDept Sounds Like Baghdad Bob

Posted: 1:47 am ET
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On October 5, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce. Below is an excerpt:

Currently, more than three million military and civilian personnel in the U.S. Government are engaged in protecting the country and advancing our interests abroad, through diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security.  In broad comparison with the wider Federal Government, the federal workforce dedicated to our national security and foreign policy is – on average – less diverse, including at the highest levels.

While this data does not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, the Presidential Memorandum outlines a number of actions that will allow departments and agencies to better leverage the diversity and inclusion of the federal workforce, consistent with the existing merit system and applicable law, including:

#Collection, analysis, and dissemination of workforce data: Data is an essential tool to help departments and agencies identify workforce talent gaps, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their diversity and inclusion efforts, and promote transparency and accountability. The memorandum provides guidance for departments and agencies to make key workforce data available to the general public, provide an annual report to their leadership and workforce on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts, expand the use of applicant flow data to assess the fairness and inclusiveness of their recruitment efforts, and identify any additional demographic categories they recommend for voluntary data collection.

#Provision of professional development opportunities and tools consistent with merit system principles: Providing access to professional development opportunities consistent with merit system principles is a key element to retaining and developing a diverse and inclusive workforce. The memorandum directs departments and agencies to engage their workforce through regular interviews to understand their views on workplace policies and why they choose to stay or leave, prioritize the expansion of professional development opportunities including programs specifically designed to develop the next generation of career senior executives, and implement a review process for decisions related to certain assignment or geographic restrictions.

# Strengthening of leadership engagement and accountability: The memorandum recognizes the critical role that senior leadership and supervisors play in fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce and cultivating talent consistent with merit system principles. It encourages departments and agencies to reward and recognize efforts by senior leaders and supervisors to participate in mentorship, sponsorship, and recruitment; to disseminate voluntary demographic data for external committee and boards that advise the leadership of an agency; and to expand the provision of training on implicit or unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies.

The full text of the memo is available here.

The State Department’s top HR person Arnold Chacon forwarded President Obama’s message to agency employees encouraging them to read the memo and learn of government-wide efforts:

Today the President issued a new Presidential Memorandum providing guidance on the implementation of policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the national security workforce. Under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Higginbottom the Department has been an integral part of this effort. It’s consistent with our values and the principles enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and other legislation. As outlined in the QDDR under Secretary Kerry’s leadership, we’ll continue to work to promote a diverse, capable, agile workforce that can advance America’s interests and values in the 21st century.

I believe strongly that we have no greater resource than our people. As the face of America to the world, we have a responsibility to ensure the Department’s workforce reflects our nation’s richness and diversity. I encourage you to read the White House fact sheet below and the Presidential Memorandum to learn more about government-wide efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion at all levels.


Waaaaa! When the State Department sounds like Baghdad Bob!

The statement says, this has been so “consistent with our values and the principles enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980” that it was impossible to pry the gender and diversity data from the State Department (a 2013 stats was made available to AFSA). For years we’re been looking at the State Department to make available publicly its diversity statistics, most particularly the gender and race component of its promotion statistics (see related posts below). Somebody from Secretary Kerry’s office once told us he would look into it and then we never heard anything back despite periodic reminders.  Data is available annually, just not available publicly.

Last April 2016, the Senate passed a bill (introduced in June 2015) that would require the State Department to report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.  That same month, just days before the Senate passed S.1635, the State Department dumped online its promotion data for 2015 (see @StateDept Dumps Online the 2015 FS Promotion Statistics Including Diversity Data, Have a Look!). The way HR presented this data –particularly the one on diversity and cone — is enough to give you migraine.  But what happened to the previous years’ data? Is the State Department going to wait until Congress forces it to publish promotion data going back three fiscal years?

Patricia Kushlish of WhirledView wrote two posts Lies, Damned lies and non-comparable statistics: reporting diversity at the State Department and More than Undiplomatic Moments: State’s Diversity Record Remains Behind a Hard Line that are both worth a read.

 

Talking the Talk, But Where’s the Walk?

The DGHR cites “the leadership of Deputy Secretary Higginbottom” his boss’s boss and the State Department as “an integral part of this effort.” He further cites “the QDDR under Secretary Kerry’s leadership” as the State Department “continue to work to promote a diverse, capable, agile workforce that can advance America’s interests and values in the 21st century.”

Look, first — remember back in 2014 we posted about FSO Margot Carrington’s paper on Advancement for Women at State: Learning From Best Practices? That report was written during a sabbatical sponsored by the Una Chapman Cox (UCC) Foundation and the State Department (see Advancement for Women at the State Department: Learning From Best Practices). The paper includes multiple recommendations including the collection of detailed attrition data and exit interviews to better understand the factors leading to attrition/retention; training and other assistance to women to help them learn to network more effectively and solicit sponsors to help them in their career development and advancement; mitigating unconscious bias; mentoring requirement for all SFS officers and making them accountable for their performance as mentors, to cite a few. Wasn’t the State Department’s “integral” participation in this WH effort informed by the report done by Ms. Carrington? Yes? No? Never heard of it?

WhirledView once asked, “Why is it that Foreign Service recruitment is able to recruit entry level classes that are far more representative of the American population as a whole but the further an individual advances up the career ladder the fewer the women and minorities are found.”  That is a really good question and top officials at State should be able to answer that. And what would have been most useful in that DGHR statement?  Had DGHR included information on what the State Department has done or is planning to do in support of promoting diversity and inclusion. What programs and accommodations is it doing to improved D&I at the agency?  Since the State Department was an “integral” part of President Obama’s effort why not talk about what is the State Department doing in terms of collection, analysis, and dissemination of workforce data? What is it doing in support of strengthening leadership engagement and accountability?   What is it doing in support of  professional development to improve opportunities for women and promote a more diverse leadership?

Because after reading and admiring the government-wide D&I efforts–  then what?

#

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Advancement for Women at the State Department: Learning From Best Practices

— Domani Spero

On March 8, we posted Women in the Foreign Service — go own the night like the Fourth of July!. We only recently discovered FSO Margot Carrington’s paper on Advancement for Women at State: Learning From Best Practices which was written during a sabbatical sponsored by the Una Chapman Cox (UCC) Foundation and the State Department.  Ms. Carrington was the 2010-2011 Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Fellow.

Ms. Carrington writes, “When I look at the leadership of my organization, I still see too few women. And, as many have noted, it appears that many women who do make it to the top are single or childless. Women who have successfully sustained a career and a family appear to be few and far between.”

What do you see?

See pages 26-29 for a Summary of Recommendations. Should be interesting to see how many of the recommendations here have been considered and implemented by State.  Thanks for Ms. Carrington and the Cox Foundation for permission to share this paper here.

* * *

Round-Up: Headgears in the Foreign Service

Headgear, headwear or headdress is the term for any element of clothing worn on one’s head for a variety of purposes — for protection, fashion, social convention or religious purposes.  And our foreign service has bunches of this:

US Embassy India

Former US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer wearing a colorful turban during a visit to Jodhpur
(Photo from US Embassy India/Flickr)

US Mission Japan

FSO Margot Carrington (aka “Amerikan Omaru“) during her Kabuki Diplomacy in Fukuoka, Japan. Wearing her hair in a yakkoshimada.
(Photo screen grab from YouTube)

US Mission Afghanistan

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry during a provincial trip. Shown in the photo wearing a Lungei
(Photo by Brian H Neely/Department of State)

Unidentified woman in a red scarf included in a photo set of Ambassador Olson’s trip to Paktika Province.
(Photo by Brian H Neely/Department of State)

Dr. Laura Tedesco, archaeologist, U.S. Embassy Kabul, checks out the ongoing excavation at the Towers of Ghazni (Bahlan Shah Minar) in Ghazni, Afghanistan on Wednesday, October 26, 2011. She’s shown in the photo wearing a bullet proof vest and what looks like a black Kevlar bullet proof ballistic helmet
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker checks on construction at the new U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 25, 2011. Shown here wearing a construction hard hat.
(S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

Public Affairs Officer Donna Welton wearing a gorgeous headscarf listens to the speakers during inauguration of the LLC in Maimana on January 31, 2012.
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

Ambassador Richard Olson, the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Kabul wearing a Lungei (or headdress that is worn by men) during a visit to Paktika, Afghanistan. The Turban is a symbol of honor and is respected everywhere it is worn; it is a common practice to honor important guests by offering them one to wear.
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

US Mission Pakistan

Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, with her husband, US Ambassador to Pakistann Cameron Munter participated in an interfaith dialogue on at Faisal Mosque’s International Islamic University. She’s shown above wearing a long, multi-purpose scarf (a dupatta?) that is essential to many South Asian women.
(Photo from US Embassy Pakistan/Flickr)

Ambassador Cameron Munter during a tour of a complex of three newly-inaugurated schools in KP Province. The schools were rebuilt with U.S. government support after their destruction in the 2005 earthquake. He is shown here wearing a pakol, a soft, round-topped men’s hat, typically of wool worn by many all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Screen grab from YouTube video)

William Martin, US Consul General in Karachi wearing a traditional Sindhi Cap and Ajrak cloth. A Cap and Arjak Day is celebrated by the people of Sindh, province of Pakistan to express their loyalty to the Sindhi culture and it’s cultural symbols.
(Photo from USCG Karachi/FB)

U.S. Consul General Carmela Conroy gets ready to enter the vulture compound for feeding time, complete with head and dress cover. (Photo taken during the Earth Day Celebration in April 2011 at the ‘Vulture Conservation Center’ in Changa Manga.
(Photo from USCG Lahore/FB)

Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID with a cap and ajrak, during the launch of the USAID funded National Reading Program at Government Girls Primary/Secondary School in Sultanabad, Karachi
(Photo from USCG Karachi/Flickr)

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton and her delegation observe a moment of silence at the shrine of Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, Bari Imam, near Islamabad.U.S. Secretary of State’s Visit to Shrine of Sufi Saint Bari Imam, Islamabad, 29 October 2009.
(State Dept. photo via US Embassy London/Flickr)

US Embassy Switzerland

United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Donald S. Beyer Jr (2nd from right) wearing a red hard hat visits the CERN LHC Large Hadron Collider. CERN, also the birthplace of the Internet. Photo taken in the CMS Cavern with an analogue camera due to strong magnetic field. (Photo from US Embassy Bern/Courtesy of CERN)

US Embassy Marshall Islands

Ambassador Campbell with program manager Ken Taggart from the Waan Aelon in Majel, Canoes of the Marshall Islands program. Shown in the photo with the traditional floral headress.
(Photo from US Embassy Majuro/FB)

US Embassy Cameroon

US Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon – Ambassador Jackson (second from the left) and Mrs. Jackson (first from the left) wearing hats at the parade on International Women Day presided over by Cameroon First Lady Chantal Biya. [US Embassy Photo)

US Embassy Micronesia

Ambassador Peter Prahar provides remarks at the Pacific Partnership 2011 Closing Ceremony on July 14. Shown here wearing a floral headress popular in the islands
(Photo from US Embassy Micronesia/FB)

US Embassy Malaysia

Via US Embassy Malaysia: “On September 28, 2011, Ambassador Paul Jones reached the hearts and minds of more than 700 Orang Asli (indigenous people) in Rompin, Pahang. He was accompanied by Malaysian Ambassador to the U.S., Dato’ Sri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis. Students, teachers and village elders greeted Ambassador Jones and delegation at the entrance of the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kedaik. This was followed by a welcoming greeting by the village head, Boo Hsuan who then presented them with traditional headgear and sashes made from coconut leaves.”
(Photo from US Embassy Malaysia website)

US Mission China

Consul General Linda Donahue shows Monkey and Pig (with respective mask and hat) how easy it is to use the new DS-160 online visa application form.
(Photo from US Embassy Beijing/Flickr)

US Embassy Lebanon

U.S Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman greets American evacuees (wearing protective headgears) as they board U.S. Marines helicopter which will take them from the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Aukar at the northern edge of the capital Beirut in Lebanon to Cyprus on Tuesday, July 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian via militaryphotos.net)

A Special Mention – from Afghanistan

via

Maj. Gen. John Toolan dances (in full Afghan gear) during a farewell dinner for distinguished members of the Afghan governmental and police forces and II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) senior officers on March 8. (Photos by Chief Petty Officer Leslie Shively)

Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not, but neither last … we hope you enjoy this round-up.

Domani Spero