The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2022 37 A s you can imagine, there was robust debate around the building, within the wider foreign affairs commu- nity and with AFSA on the pros and cons of creating a precept focused on DEIA. It’s a bold and unprecedented move, but one the Office of Diversity and Inclusion believes essential to achieving real change in our culture. Colleagues who were initially skeptical about the idea raised some good questions and concerns that we believe are worth addressing. Q: Won’t having a dedicated DEIA precept lead to box-check- ing on DEIA efforts rather than prompting colleagues to do this work from a place of genuine interest and conviction? Fulfilling any of the core precepts could be seen as a box- checking exercise, but what sets an employee’s EER apart from others is the strength of their examples for any given precept and their ability to demonstrate the impact that said example had on the institution and our policy. This will be no different. Some people may do the minimum, but those who are most competitive for promotion will be the ones who clearly go beyond mere box-checking and show real results in advancing the department’s DEIA goals. It’s also important to stress that there is no single magic bullet to advancing DEIA. Like other DEIA interventions, this precept is part of a broader, holistic and long-term strategy. Q: Won’t this just compel managers to relegate even more DEIA work to their direct reports and those who are part of underrepresented groups—many of whom are already burned out—so that said managers can then take credit for DEIA work despite not doing the heavy lifting themselves? With all precepts, most managers talk about their team’s collective accomplishments and take credit for their own role in creating the environment that enabled such work. We can’t expect that work on the DEIA front will be different. That said, we do think this precept is one in which midlevel managers can also play a distinct role from the rest of their team and take credit for that. This includes ensuring an inclusive and accessible work unit by taking proactive steps to make it so, mentoring employees from a wide array of backgrounds, making their bidding/hiring processes more transparent and equitable, and building diverse teams. Managers who take this two-pronged approach—helping their team, and also spearheading DEIA work at their own level—will likely be the most competitive for promotion. Further, we believe part of the reason colleagues who have done DEIA work are burned out is precisely because they’ve had to do it on the margins and during their personal time. Elevating this work to equal standing with other institutional and policy work will allow managers to create time and space for it during employees’ core hours. It also incentivizes more colleagues to help with this work, leaving fewer people to do it alone. Hopefully, that will serve to lessen the overall sense of burnout. Q: What can I do to meet this precept? While not exhaustive, here are suggestions for how you can meaningfully participate in advancing the department’s DEIA work: • Join your post or bureau DEIA Council. Even if you are not a member, partner with your DEIA Council to host a dis- cussion on a DEIA-related topic. Host a watch party for one of the State Department’s many DEIA-related programs, and then develop a discussion guide or host a follow-up conver- sation to talk about how the topic relates to your immediate work environment. • Organize a virtual event with your bureau’s senior DEIA adviser to learn how your bureau is connecting its internal focus on DEIA with its external foreign policy goals for the region. • Collaborate with your human resources officer or execu- tive office to play a role in reforming your post or bureau’s recruitment and hiring practices to encourage greater trans- parency, equity and diversity in its assignment and hiring practices. (Think about how this can be done for local staff recruitment and hiring, as well.) • After taking FSI’s Mitigating Unconscious Bias Course, lead a discussion with section chiefs at your post or office directors in your bureau about the role each of you can play in reducing bias in department practices. (Section chiefs and office directors have a critical role to play in this space with respect to recruiting, hiring and making sure all employees have equitable opportunities to do promotion-enhancing work, and are equitably recognized for outstanding perfor- mance with awards.) Continued on next page Issues and Concerns: A Q&A with Kim McClure