The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 25 PHILFOSTER DIVERSITYAND INCLUSION IN THE U.S. FOREIGN SERVICE Recommendations forAction In the wake of last year’s events that put a spotlight on prob- lems of diversity and inclusion at the State Department, the Association of Black American Ambassadors crafted a draft statement on diversity in the Foreign Service. On Oct. 29, the ABAA convened an online diversity conference to consider a unified initiative to press for diversity and anti-racism in the U.S. Foreign Service and the foreign affairs agencies more broadly. Chaired by Ambassador (ret.) Charles Ray, on behalf of the ABAA, participants included Ambassador (ret.) Ruth A. Davis, Ambassador (ret.) Edward J. Perkins, Ambassador (ret.) Harry Thomas and other luminaries, as well as others from ABAA and representatives from the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Pickering & Rangel Fellows Association, the Thursday Lun- FOCUS The Association of Black American Ambassadors offers a set of measures to make diversity and inclusion real at State and USAID. T he foreign affairs agencies have a collective respon- sibility to stand up and take serious action to address structural barriers to diversity and inclusion in their respective agencies. All employees should be provided with the skills, resources and mentoring that contribute to professional advancement. These proposed changes should be codified in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and implementing regulations. cheon Group, Disability Action Group, Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies, American Foreign Service Association, Black Professionals in International Affairs, Asian American For- eign Affairs Association and National Public Radio. In the 45-minute discussion, all participants voiced agreement with the draft statement’s intent, the measures it included, and the counsel from Ambassador Ruth A. Davis to present the statement as a series of actionable bullet points. Amb. Perkins emphasized the imperative that the Foreign Service broadly represent elements of American society, and encouraged senior and retired diplomats to work with current employees to ensure that the State Department accurately reflects the Constitution and our nation’s values. A num- ber of participants offered comments and suggestions for consider- ation . Here is the final statement and set of recommendations. LEADERSHIP. Unless there is clear and visible support from the highest levels, little action will be taken to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development. We believe that the only way to reverse the institutional failings in these areas is to put the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Secretary of State and those in the senior ranks of the Foreign and Civil Service.