The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2021 23 FOCUS Harry W. Kopp is a former FSO, a frequent contribu- tor to The Foreign Service Journal and a member of its editorial board. This article is adapted from a new edition of Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the US Foreign Service , by Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland, forthcoming in September from Georgetown University Press. PERSPECTIVES ON DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Diversityand Inclusion in theU.S.ForeignService: APrimer Here is a historical look at gender, ethnic and racial diversity in the Foreign Service and the long and uneven battle for progress. BY HARRY W. KOPP I n November 1936, The Foreign Service Journal pub- lished a photographic register of all 701 officers of the U.S. Foreign Service. Look at the faces: 700 white men and one white woman. Elsewhere in the Journal of that era, one could find an occasional racial slur. A 1937 appreciation of the late American minister to Finlan d praised his “rich repertory of Southern negro stories,” one of which the author gratuitously repeats. Recounting these facts is not to single out the Foreign Service as particularly racist or sexist. Then as now, the Service reflected the values of American society at large, or more specifically of its leading institutions. Similar numbers prevailed in the Army and the Navy, in chambers of commerce, in state and local governments, schools and universities, indeed throughout most of civil society. The stereotypes that on rare occasions appeared in the Journal were, as Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has documented, pervasive across white Ameri- can society, often in far more vicious form. In its social attitudes and behavior, the Foreign Service has always been a follower, not a leader. The Foreign Service Act of 1946 included language to “insure … that the officers and employees of the Foreign Service are broadly representative of the American people.” The Congress that enacted that law had 11 white women and two Black men in a House of 435 members; in the Senate, every one of the 96 members was a white male. That Congress wasn’t bothered that the Foreign Service lacked women or minorities—its concern was a surfeit of Ivy Leaguers. In 1940 about a third of the officer corps held degrees from Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Columbia. The Journal again: “Since Harvard is synonymous in many minds, however unjustly, with tea-drinking, peculiarities of speech and sartorial affectations, it is perhaps responsible for the persistent impression in certain areas of the United States that Foreign Service Officers are not as ‘American’ as they should be.” With regard to race, ethnicity and gender, neither Congress nor the Service could see its own blind spot.