State Department Launches Diversity Initiative

In one of the first federal workforce diversity-related initiatives launched by the Trump administration, the State Department has said it will “redouble our efforts to increase diversity at the highest ranks of the department, including at the ambassador level.”

“We have a great diversity gap in the State Department”–all but about 12 percent of SES and Senior Foreign Service members at State are white–Secretary Rex Tillerson said in a speech to participants in the department’s students and fellowship programs. Only 9 percent of foreign service specialists and only 5 percent of foreign service generalists are African American and only 6 and 10 percent, respectively, are Hispanic, he said.

For each ambassadorship opening, at least one minority candidate must be considered and recruiting efforts are to be expanded at colleges with large minority representation in their student bodies and at minority-focused job fairs, he said. “Only about one-third of our senior foreign service officers are women, and we will work to close the gender gap as well.”

“We will be keeping all of our fellowship and internship programs in place. The department-wide freeze we put on hiring programs early this year is only temporary, and it was a temporary measure so we could take a thorough accounting of the entire State Department in consideration of how to best strengthen it and to position ourselves to improve our diversity,” he added.

The Obama administration had several diversity and inclusiveness related programs which it attempted to institutionalize by giving agencies goals to carry out over a period of years. To date, the Trump administration has not rolled them back.