The State Department recently acknowledged its diversity issues during a speech by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In an effort to solve the current issue, Rex Tillerson stated that the department will be “[redoubling] efforts to increase diversity at the highest ranks of the department, including at the ambassador level.” Bridging the great diversity gap, as Tillerson calls it will be a huge undertaking, but one that is more than achievable. Tillerson has already stated that he will be directing hiring committees to include at least one minority candidate for any open ambassador positions.
According to a State Department spokesperson, as of December 2016, State has 75,420 total employees, which includes full-time permanent direct hire foreign service, civil service personnel and all locally employed staff. The most recent data on State’s website show that as of the end of fiscal 2017 about 71 percent of State employees were white, compared to 15 percent African American, 6 percent Asian and 4.5 percent multi-race. In addition, only 7% of the department is Hispanic and around 40% are women.
With the new focus on promoting diversity to reflect the demographics of America, Tillerson has promised to tap into talent pools from around the globe. According to a recent article by the Federal News Radio, the Tillerson has claimed that the “best candidates won’t just be found at Ivy League schools, but in small towns and suburbs, as well as reaching out to veterans.”
The new State Department diversity push is a noble gesture and contradicts Trump’s promise of not including diversity when making government hiring decisions. However, as I’ve stated before, if you want to promote American interest in foreign nations, its much easier to do so when the people interacting with foreign nations look like them. This is the perfect case of an increase in diversity will benefit America on a global stage.
“So we’re going to build our recruiting team operations out in places that we haven’t concentrated before,” Tillerson said. “Now, that doesn’t mean coming through town once a year and dropping some pamphlets off at the recruiting office. We’re going to build and develop relationships with institutions around the country so that people can more easily find us, and more importantly, we can find them, not just to rely upon people seeking us out.”