By Patricia H Kushlis
It’s been nearly four months since we asked the State Department to grant open and public access to its statistics - broken down by gender and race - regarding promotions in the Foreign Service in “What's the big secret with the State Department's diversity statistics and why"?
A similar question was posed by Diplopundit at about the same time: “Foreign Service 2013 Promotion Results — Gender, Ethnicity, Race Stats Still Behind the Great Firewall” August 18, 2014.
We found it puzzling that both OPM (the Office of Personnel Management) and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) are required by law to report on how federal agencies are complying with EEO regulations and mandates, yet the State Department has either exempted itself or been exempted from reporting EEO numbers for the Foreign Service. Nevertheless, neither the reasons for the secretiveness nor the statistics in question have been revealed publicly.
Hope Springs Eternal?
We continue to await word from State Human Resources (HR) and the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) as to what the numbers are and why they have been kept hush-hush for years on end.
If you have not seen it, this video is well worth watching.
It is about 25 minutes long and details efforts, primarily in recruitment, that the State Department is making to attract a more diverse workforce; one that reflects, as former Director General Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield put it in an interview on the program, “the face of America.”
What struck us about the video, however, is that while efforts to recruit women and minorities have been strengthened, there is no visible progress within the State Department to mentor, retain, and ultimately promote women and minorities into leadership positions.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is refreshingly frank about these shortcomings, stating at various times that “[the Foreign Service] has a retention issue,” “At the mid-levels and senior levels the numbers are not there,” and “[the Foreign Service] must do a better job mentoring [women and minorities].”
But would the Department please tell us how it intends to rectify the situation when officials in leadership positions continue to hide the statistics, why this glaring shortcoming wasn’t addressed years before and why officers – like Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield – who have the authority to implement the needed changes haven’t done so? Lamentations - on or off camera - are not enough.