The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

66 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 he two-career family has become more of a norm than an exception, yet the Foreign Service is lumber- ing along attempting to catch up with that reality and figure out how a two-career family can succeed under the unique circumstances of Foreign Service life. Until the 1970s, the spouse (back then, almost exclusively wives) was considered by the bureaucracy to be an arm of the employee rather than an individual or professional in her own right, and the wife’s performance in such endeavors as representational enter- taining was included in the employee’s performance evalu- ation reports. Spouses were not paid for their role as sup- porting actors, but were expected to work at that job. A 1972 Department of State directive “liberated” FS wives from employee evaluation reports, and in 1978, the Family Liaison Office was created to further assist Foreign Service family members. Since then, more and more spouses have taken on paid employment inside and outside U.S. missions. “At any given time,” says FLO’s Katie Hokenson, “there are 2,000 family member employees working inside our missions overseas.” Family member employment is a key issue for foreign affairs agencies seeking to recruit and retain the best employees. The new generation of Foreign Service employees wants and expects adequate employment options for their spouses. Management does seem to rec- ognize that to keep employees satisfied, it has to be engaged in trying to satisfy the employment needs of fami- ly members. Some of the most exciting developments on the family member employment front are tied to employ- ment outside missions. However, over 75 percent of fami- ly members working overseas work inside U.S. missions, and most family members still express a preference for work inside missions. Accordingly, this article examines the status of those employment options. We spoke with, among others, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources John O’Keefe, Family Liaison Office Director Faye Barnes, Overseas Employment Personnel Management Specialist Vens McCoy, and FLO Employ- ment Program Coordinator Katie Hokenson. In addition, more than 70 family members responded to our request for input on their own experiences with mission employment. Deputy Assistant Secretary O’Keefe explained that improved family member employment is one element of the director general’s current strategy. He said that man- agement is aiming to help family members find more “pro- fessional-level” employment. A recent survey of 2,400 EFMs, O’Keefe explained, helped illustrate clearly that “we have a real talent pool” inside the Foreign Service commu- nity; one that can and should be utilized. Preference for Mission Jobs Of the 70 family members who responded to our request for comments on family member employment, a surprisingly large majority expressed the view that they would rather work inside the embassy than outside. This preference comes despite numerous bitter complaints about mission jobs focusing on low salaries, lack of profes- sional options and frustrations about treatment by post S PECIAL R EPORT F AMILY M EMBER E MPLOYMENT : A T W ORK IN THE M ISSION F AMILY MEMBER EMPLOYMENT IS A KEY ISSUE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AGENCIES . H ERE IS A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT THE OPTIONS FOR WORK INSIDE MISSIONS . B Y S HAWN D ORMAN Shawn Dorman, a former Foreign Service political officer, is associate editor of the Foreign Service Journal and edi- tor of the AFSA book Inside a U.S. Embassy. T