The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

36 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FirstGens@State members Elsanor Lam and the author participate in the 2023 First-Generation Student Success Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, representing State at a GTM-sponsored recruitment event. Lam is a foreign a—airs ocer in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement A—airs’ Oce of Global Programs and Policy. COURTESY OF SCOTT WINTON created an open and empathetic space for employees to hear the personal stories of successful achievers, the adversity that shaped them, and the obstacles that remain. One FirstGens@ State global session featured Ti any Henderson, who serves as the department’s rst-ever specialist advocate. U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho Maria Brewer presented a session titled “Maximize Your Success.” Since its founding in 2022, FirstGens@State has advocated for members’ priorities, aligned activities with the unions representing federal employees of the foreign a airs agencies, launched a quarterly newsletter, and developed nancial literacy guides for new employees. Ways to Improve Representation “ e Federal Government should have a workforce that re ects the diversity of the American people,” states Executive Order (E.O.) 14035 (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce), adding that more representative and inclusive workplaces “yield higher-performing organizations.” Here are some ideas to improve representation in the State Department, create more inclusive foreign a airs agencies, and re ect the interests of America’s working class in our foreign policy. Recruit for national representation. Increase recruitment from nonselective schools to improve representation in U.S. foreign a airs agencies. Ultimately, this would increase our talent pool of candidates and reduce the U.S. government’s dependency on feeder schools, many of which employ legacy admission policies. Reinforce GTM’s engagement with colleges that host U.S. Department of Education Federal TRIO programs, which are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO alums make excellent recruits, building o the Education Department’s and Congress’ long-standing investment in rst-generation students (FirstGens@State also serves as an alumni organization for TRIO alums working at the State Department). Seek authenticity, not an election campaign poster. End the popularized but inauthentic phrase “look like America” as the litmus test for diversity. At best, it’s a marketing gimmick that perpetuates historical stereotypes. At worst, it’s a cheap endeavor that reinforces visible biases about what marginalized communities “look” like. We need to “represent America.” anks to the Secretary of State’s O ce of Diversity and Inclusion and GTM, we have data, so let’s use it. Using demographic data, including the categories de ned by E.O. 14035, is a starting point and will help ensure foreign a airs agencies re ect the various communities that represent our nation. Moreover, we should publish disaggregated self-identi cation data on socioeconomic indicators, including FirstGen status,