The U.S. Department of State is firmly committed to building a workforce that reflects our nation’s diversity and leverages the creativity of diverse, talented groups to advance America’s foreign policy priorities. To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, we have built an inclusive workplace in which every employee is treated with dignity and respect and feels empowered to serve the American people. This commitment includes active recruitment and retention strategies as well as transparent reporting.
The Department’s actions are guided, in part, by its 2016-2020 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (DISP). The Department is taking a collaborative approach to creating a 2020-2024 DISP that communicates from the top why diversity and inclusion are essential to the Department’s mission, business, and culture. All bureaus will contribute to the DISP to highlight the various diversity and inclusion initiatives performed throughout the Department and set goals to address any existing challenges.
The following questions and answers provide more information on how the Department demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Q: Where is the Department’s workforce diversity data?
A: The Department publishes workforce diversity statistics on the public website; the data is updated on a quarterly basis. The most recent Department of State – Diversity Statistics [of] Full Time Permanent Workforce is located on the Resources – Bureau of Human Resources webpage (https://www.state.gov/resources-bureau-of-human-resources/).
The Department also has made public data on applicants, grade, separations, promotions, selection boards, veterans, and mentorship. That data can be found here.
Q: How does the Department comply with diversity and inclusion metrics?
A: Diversity Metrics Compliance. The Department does not make employment actions based on an individual’s protected characteristics. In accordance with federal law and regulations, the Department has developed goals for increasing the participation of persons with disabilities and veterans in the Department.
The Affirmative Action Plan for People With Disabilities (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/affirmative-action-plan-for-people-with-disabilities/) outlines the Department’s plan for the hiring, placement, and advancement of individuals with disabilities and is available on the Department’s public website.
In support of Executive Order 13528, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, the Department of State launched the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) (https://www.state.gov/veterans-innovation-partnership). Information about the Department’s VIP Fellowship is available on the Department’s public website and http://www.vipfellowship.org/.
The Department strives to employ a Foreign Service that is representative of the American people, as outlined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980. As such, the Department will continue to invest in recruitment programs and initiatives to introduce the Foreign Service to women and geographically, ethnically, and racially diverse audiences.
Inclusion Metrics Compliance
The Department uses the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) New Inclusion Quotient (New IQ) as its primary inclusion metric. New IQ is a subset of 20 questions that measure the extent to which employees feel their work units and supervisors create empowering, fair, supportive, open and cooperative work environments. In Fiscal Year 2019, the Department’s New IQ score is 62 percent, that same as the Government-wide score. The Department will continue to monitor this metric to identify work units that have scores that are significantly above or below the Department-wide score. The Bureau of Human Resources will consult with those offices and discuss options for understanding their New IQ scores and provide resources and best practices for creating workplaces that foster a culture of wellness, resiliency, and inclusion.
Fairness, Equity, and Inclusion
Q: How does the Department propagate fairness, impartiality, and inclusion in the work environment domestically and abroad?
The mission of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) (https://www.state.gov/bureaus-offices/bureaus-and-offices-reporting-directly-to-the-secretary/office-of-civil-rights/) is to propagate fairness, equity and inclusion at the Department of State. S/OCR’s business is conflict resolution, employee and supervisor assistance, and diversity management. S/OCR manages the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) administrative process for the Department and works to prevent employment discrimination through outreach and training.
The Department requires employees to work together in a respectful and professional manner. The Department of State’s 2016-2020 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan states, “Building a workforce that reflects our nation’s broad diversity is a top priority […] To represent the United States to the world, the U.S. Department of State must have a workforce that reflects the rich composition of its citizenry.” The Department works tirelessly around the world to propagate fairness, equity, and inclusion in a number of ways.
The Department’s Foreign Service Institute integrated diversity and inclusion into required training and development for all employees, particularly supervisors, to ensure they are aware of their roles and responsibilities to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The emphasis placed on supervisors ensures that they know the laws and policies that prohibit certain personnel practices, as well as those that provide special hiring authorities that affirm the role of diversity in the government.
For the missions abroad, S/OCR provides training to collateral duty Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselors and Locally Employed (LE) Staff EEO Liaisons, who serve as points of contact at Post. While their role is neutral, they act as an extension of S/OCR to provide information to all employees who wish to exercise their rights to the EEO complaint process (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/filing-an-eeo-complaint/) and the Department’s anti-harassment program.
Foreign Service Selection Panel Composition
As required by the Foreign Service Act of 1980, the Department ensures Foreign Service promotion panels and merit service increase panels are composed of underrepresented groups within the Department, to include women and those who self-identify as racial and or ethnic minorities. In constituting Foreign Service award panels, HR follows best practices to ensure diversity and transparency, including appropriate representation of grades and skill codes. All panels have training and conversations on unconscious bias prior to serving to raise their awareness of ways in which unconscious and conscious bias can emerge during panel decisions. This aligns with the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and precepts agreed to with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).
The Department recognizes fourteen Employee Affinity Groups (EAGs) (https://careers.state.gov/learn/diversity-inclusion/affinity-groups/), 6 Employee Organizations and over 20 Bureau Diversity and Inclusion Working Groups who, despite having varied interest and affinity, all share the mission of providing a shared network to increase education, transparency, and communication between employees and Department leadership.
Management Directive 715
S/OCR’s Diversity Management and Outreach (DMO) section has the mission to provide guidance on equity and inclusion in various aspects of the employment lifecycle to offices, bureaus, and other key stakeholders within Department. In line with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Management Directive (MD) 715 (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/eeoc-management-directive-715-report/), DMO does a root cause analysis looking at Department policies, procedures, and practices in order to better understand when potential barriers to inclusion (whether physical, institutional, or attitudinal) could impact equal employment opportunity. When identified, DMO works with management to devise a plan aimed at eliminating the barrier(s).
Q: How does the Department ensure that harassment, intolerance, and discrimination are not tolerated?
A: The Department takes a collaborative and integrated approach to preventing and addressing harassment. To that end, multiple policies, processes, and offices are involved. The Department’s policy against harassment (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/discriminatory-harassment-policy/) does not require behavior to rise to the level of satisfying the statutory/regulatory definition of harassment in order to be actionable. Instead, the Department takes a zero tolerance approach to harassment, investigates all allegations of harassment, and takes appropriate disciplinary action. One of the most critical aspects of the anti-harassment policy is the mandatory reporting requirement for supervisors and other designated officials. Employees are made aware of the FAM policies and procedures at new employee orientation, subsequent anti-harassment training throughout their career (including online training), and via required posting of EEO information. The average employee will receive EEO/anti-harassment training approximately every two to three years, though many receive training more often.
Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Process
The EEO complaint process (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/filing-an-eeo-complaint/), as established by 29 C.F.R. § 1614, is an administrative process to resolve disputes alleging acts of employment discrimination prohibited by EEO laws and regulations. The process is available to any U.S. citizen employee or applicant for employment with the Department who alleges unlawful discrimination, including harassment.
Although the EEO formal complaint process, which is covered by U.S. laws, is only available to U.S. citizens, the Department extends availability of the informal EEO process to non-U.S. citizen Locally Employed Staff as a matter of policy. All Department employees—including supervisors, managers, and political appointees—as well as contractors are required to cooperate with S/OCR and its authorized agents who conduct inquiries and investigations as part of the EEO informal/formal complaint process.
The Department’s anti-harassment policies (Sexual Harassment and Discriminatory Harassment) have been in place since at least 2005, when they were published in the Foreign Affairs Manual at 3 FAM 1525-26. The policies emphasize the Department’s commitment to providing a workplace free from harassment and to taking prompt and appropriate corrective action as necessary. The policies set expectations for professionalism in the workplace and outline what options, rights, and responsibilities individuals have in addressing and reporting harassment.
The anti-harassment program is entirely separate from the EEO complaint process. The harassment inquiry process is an administrative process focused on investigating whether Department workplace anti-harassment policies have been violated, whereas the EEO complaint process is focused on resolving an individual’s claimed harm resulting from an allegation of discrimination. One process may proceed without the other, and both processes may occur simultaneously.
Reports of harassment come to S/OCR in a number of ways and from various sources. Provisions in 3 FAM 1525/1526 state that “Supervisors and other responsible Department officials who observe, are informed of, or reasonably suspect incidents of possible harassment must immediately report such incidents to S/OCR, which will either initiate or oversee a prompt investigation.” All such reports must go directly to S/OCR either by direct contact or through the online Harassment Reporting Form. For responsible Department officials, failure to report such incidents within a reasonable period of time is considered a violation of this policy and may result (and has resulted) in disciplinary action. In addition to the Department officials who are required to report harassment to S/OCR, anyone in the workplace may raise concerns about harassment directly to S/OCR, affording employees a harassment reporting mechanism outside of their supervisory chain, and outside of the EEO complaint process.
Q: How does the Department refrain from engaging in unlawful discrimination in any phase of the employment process, including recruitment, hiring, evaluation, assignments, promotion, retention, and training?
A: The Department strives to have a model EEO program in accordance with the EEOC as outlined in the six essential elements in the MD-715 (https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-civil-rights/eeoc-management-directive-715-report/). EEOC provides numerous questions against which the Department assesses itself.
The Department routinely evaluates its programs, policies, and practices to ensure equal employment opportunity and has many planned activities for Fiscal Year 2020, due to be reported out in the Fiscal Year 2019 MD-715 report.
Mandatory Anti-Harassment Training
In early 2018, the Department undertook an effort to train all direct hire (Civil and Foreign Service) employees, contractors, Locally Employed Staff, retired annuitants, and non-Department staff working at Department facilities abroad on rights and responsibilities for the Department’s anti-harassment program. The Department achieved a 97% compliance rate.
Mitigating Unconscious Bias Training
The Department strives to provide fair and transparent consideration of employees throughout the talent lifecycle – hiring, promotion, development opportunities, etc. To support this important element of diversity and inclusion, the Department educates the workforce on how unconscious biases affect perceptions, decisions, and interactions, as well as the ways in which they can mitigate them.
The Department has mandatory requirements for EEO/Diversity Awareness training, including a course on Mitigating Unconscious Bias, for all supervisors and managers, personnel who serve on assignment panels or bureau awards committees, and for those who serve as Career Development Officers or examiners in the Bureau of Human Resources. Moreover, all employees are strongly encouraged to participate in these types of trainings, on average, every five years.
The Bureau of Human Resources runs specific training for all Foreign Service Selection Boards and Bureau Awards coordinators on diversity and unconscious bias. For instance, the diversity training for Bureau Awards Committees urges participants to consider how to ensure that department awards are granted as fairly as possible in accordance with objective criteria and in the most bias-free manner possible. The Bureau of Human Resources works directly with colleagues in the field to address unconscious bias in evaluations and awards. In 2019 the Bureau of Human Resources, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Office of Civil Rights piloted a training program for bureaus to work on standardizing the Foreign Service bidding process, in an effort to give them a tool for addressing the potential for unconscious bias to creep into the bidding process.
The Foreign Service Institute offers a one-day, in-person course on mitigating Unconscious Bias for direct-hire employees who are managers and supervisors. To increase awareness of unconscious bias to employees across the globe and at all levels of the Department, the Department is developing an eLearning version of this course. It will launch in late 2019 and will be open to all employees.
Employee Standards of Performance and Conduct
In the fall of 2018, the Bureau of Human Resources and other stakeholders reviewed various documents related to diversity and inclusion and developed appropriate language to add to performance documents to support mandatory reporting requirements. Pursuant to the review, the Foreign Service Core Precepts were modified this past year to include language on diversity and inclusion, and the Civil Service Performance and Appraisal Form will be updated to include language on diversity and inclusion.
In 2017, the Bureau of Human Resources initiated a cable series in an effort to ensure employees know that the Department does not tolerate misconduct and that individuals who engage in misconduct are held accountable. The Bureau of Human Resources publishes internal, quarterly reports that provide instances in which the Department proposed discipline for various discriminatory activities, such as domestic violence, derogatory comments about race/national origin, and inappropriate sexual comments.
Q: How does the Department prevent illegal retaliation against employees for participating in a protected equal employment opportunity activity?
A: The Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) conducts training around the globe to inform employees on what retaliation is and to make it clear that retaliation—in any form—is strictly prohibited by law and by Department policy. During the pre-complaint stage of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, EEO Counselors provide S/OCR-approved language on retaliation in initial email correspondence. In addition, EEO Counselors are sure to discuss the seriousness of retaliation with the responding management official. This includes explaining the importance of: avoiding publicly discussing the allegation; not sharing information about the EEO activity with any other managers or subordinates; to be mindful not to isolate the employee; to avoid reactive behavior such as denying the employee information/equipment/benefits provided to others performing similar duties; to not interfere with the EEO process; to provide clear and accurate information to the EEO staff, EEO Investigator, or Administrative Judge; and to not threaten the employee, witnesses or anyone else involved in the processing of a complaint.
To meet the requirements of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-174), also known as the “No FEAR Act,” U.S. citizen Department employees, irrespective of geographic location or assignment, and non-U.S. citizen employees who are located within the territorial United States are required to complete training on the rights, remedies and protections available to employees under antidiscrimination and whistleblower protection laws within 90 days of entry on duty. Additionally, all personnel are required to re-take and pass this course every two years. While it is not required, personal services contractors are strongly encouraged to take the No FEAR Act course.
The Department provides current data for the No FEAR Act in accordance with the reporting requirements here: https://www.state.gov/subjects/civil-rights/.
For the harassment inquiry process, all individuals who report harassment and/or participate in a harassment investigation are informed of the prohibition on retaliation and are given instructions on how to report retaliation to S/OCR and/or initiate an EEO complaint. Allegations of retaliation are promptly investigated, and individuals who are found to have retaliated are subject to disciplinary action.
Q: How does the Department provide reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and applicants with disabilities?
A: An employee or qualified applicant may request a reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process or to perform the essential duties of the position for which they were hired. These accommodation requests are reviewed by the Bureau of Human Resources, Office of Accessibility and Accommodations, Disability and Reasonable Accommodations Division (HR/OAA/DRAD). The request initiates an interactive process between HR/OAA/DRAD, the requesting individuals, and the individual’s supervisor, as appropriate. Accommodations span a wide range of potential services, technologies, and/or workplace modifications. As an example, an applicant taking the Foreign Service Officer Test might request sign language interpretation for the personal interview component of the exam, or a visually impaired employee might request screen magnification software. Job announcements for the Department include instructions for applicants to request reasonable accommodation. Additional information or inquiries may be directed to HR/OAA/DRAD at ReasonableAccommodations@state.gov.
Internally, HR/OAA conducts regular outreach and information sessions for Department employees regarding the reasonable accommodation (RA) process. HR/OAA/DRAD is the designated decision maker and primary point of contact for RA requests. The Disability Dashboard intranet site has comprehensive guidance for employees and supervisors about the RA process, assistive technologies, personal assistance services, and workplace accessibility. In addition, the Department offers a distance-learning course on Reasonable Accommodations, available to all employees.
In November 2019, HR/OAA is scheduled to open a new assistive technology center, which will support HR/OAA’s mission to provide centralized disability services and expertise, primarily focused on providing assistive technology solutions for State Department employees and applicants for employment in support of the reasonable accommodation program. Employees will be able to test, train, and provide feedback on assistive technology initiatives, solutions in an environment similar to their workspace or fitted to accommodate their workspace.
Q: How does the Department recruit a diverse workforce?
A: The Department’s recruitment strategy involves identifying, recruiting, and hiring on merit from the broadest, deepest pool of diverse candidates to ensure a strong pipeline of Civil Service and Foreign Service personnel. To meet these goals and provide nation-wide coverage, the Recruitment team includes Washington, D.C.-based recruiters with diversity-focused portfolios and sixteen regional recruiters, known as Diplomats in Residence (https://careers.state.gov/connect/dir/). Recruiters engage with undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities as well as professionals at national-level associations and conferences. As of September 13, 2019, the recruitment team participated in 208 diversity-focused events this year, specifically geared toward recruiting women, individuals from underrepresented populations, and veterans. The team also coordinates with the Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs on recruitment-related outreach, supports recruitment activities for Department officials, and coordinates with employee affinity groups to strengthen recruitment efforts among underrepresented groups.
Q: Does the Department recruit at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, women’s colleges, and colleges that typically serve majority minority populations?
A: The Department employs experienced Foreign Service Officers and Specialists as Diplomats in Residence (https://careers.state.gov/connect/dir/), six of whom are hosted at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions around the country. Washington, DC-based recruiters also focus on specific, diversity-based portfolios, including women, veterans, African-American, and Hispanic populations. They engage with current students and alumni of those communities on a regular basis. The Department also recruits at “majority minority” colleges and women’s colleges. As of September 13, 2019, the team participated in over 180 events this year at minority serving institutions and majority minority institutions (including women’s and Tribal Colleges).
Q: Does the Department sponsor and recruit at job fairs in urban and rural communities and land grant universities?
A: Diplomats in Residence (https://careers.state.gov/connect/dir/) are hosted at colleges and universities in major metropolitan areas, as well as smaller cities. All Diplomats in Residence cover large regions, recruiting regularly from rural communities and all kinds of colleges and universities, including community colleges. Washington, DC-based recruiters focus on diversity recruitment through specific portfolios. For example, a Washington, D.C-based recruiter with the Native American portfolio participated in a ten-day trip to rural Montana to visit seven Tribal Colleges this past spring. In addition, Diplomats in Residence visit and regularly participate in events at land grant universities, as they are oftentimes the largest campuses in a state within their region. As of September 13, 2019, the recruitment team attended 67 events this year at land grant universities across the nation.
Q: Does the Department place job advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and job sites oriented toward women and people of color?
A: Currently, active and passive job seekers generally conduct their searches in three ways: (1) through online resources, (2) engaging with recruiters, and (3) networking. The Department uses a combination of all three to identify, attract, and recruit diverse talent. Owned media such as careers.state.gov and Yello, and social recruitment channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Glassdoor are key components of the push campaigns utilized in support of Foreign Service Specialist vacancy announcements, the Consular Fellows Program and the Information Management Specialist and Foreign Service Officer Tests. The Department invests in rigorously-reviewed paid advertising on YouTube, Hulu, Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook, and specific diverse audience network sites. The Department uses tagging and hashtags to target diverse, skills-focused groups and organizations like #WomenInSTEM, #DiversityInSTEM, @AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society), and @ABWP_Drs (Association of Black Women Physicians), to name a few. Foreign Service Specialist opportunities are always present on LinkedIn, Handshake, and Glassdoor. The careers site features all Foreign Service positions, and uses the USAJOBS application program interface to ensure all Civil Service jobs open to the public are included on the site.
Q: How does the Department provide opportunities through the Foreign Service Internship Program and other hiring initiatives?
A: The U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program (USFSIP) is a valuable recruitment program targeting students from groups historically underrepresented in the Department and those demonstrating financial need. The program offers two paid-summer internships to introduce students to the practice of diplomacy, the operations of the Department of State, and the unique rewards of public service careers. Since 2014, USFSIP has hosted 133 highly qualified participants hailing from all parts of the U.S. Almost fifty percent of the alumni of this program are currently pursuing Foreign Service or public service careers.
Other programs, including the Department’s unpaid internships, the Pathways Programs (https://careers.state.gov/work/pathways/), the Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship (https://twc.edu/programs/foreign-affairs-information-technology-fellowship), and the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship (http://rangelprogram.org/) and Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship (https://pickeringfellowship.org/), serve as critical pipelines for talent for the Department’s Foreign and Civil Service career opportunities.
An overview of the various programs is located on the careers website, here:
- Student Programs: https://careers.state.gov/intern/student-programs/
- Professional Fellowships: https://careers.state.gov/work/fellowships/
Q: How does the Department recruit mid-level and senior-level professionals through programs designed to increase minority and veteran representation in international affairs?
A: The Bureau of Human Resources, Office of Civil Service Human Resources Management (HR/CSHRM) works with bureaus recruiting for Senior Executive Service (SES) vacancies to identify outlets, organizations, and potential talent pools from which to recruit. HR/CSHRM provides support in preparing inclusive language and communications and distributes publically advertised SES Vacancy announcements to professional organizations that promote diversity within the federal government’s senior ranks. This outreach includes organizations such as the Asian American Government Executive’s Network, Association of African American Federal Executives, National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives, the Society of American Indian Government Employees, and Executive Women in Government.
In addition, HR/CSHRM co-manages the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellowship (https://careers.state.gov/work/fellowships/vip/) program. The main focus of the VIP is to promote foreign affairs and program analyst career opportunities for veterans and disabled veterans. In 2019, the fifth cohort of VIP Fellows was selected. HR/CSHRM’s Veteran Employment Program Manager supports recruiting efforts to attract veterans from diverse backgrounds to apply to this program as well as other Civil Service positions.
Q: Does the Department offer the Foreign Service written and oral assessment examinations in locations throughout the United States?
A: The Department offers the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) three times a year at approximately 700 domestic and overseas locations. In 2019, the test was offered at 321 locations in the United States, as well as 79 overseas testing centers, and approximately 100 Embassies and Consulates. Over 250 U.S. military installations also hosted the test domestically and overseas. The Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA) is offered throughout the year in Washington, D.C., as well as in Chicago and San Francisco during separate, month-long timeframes.
Q: How does the Department provide opportunities through the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program and the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program?
A: The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship (http://rangelprogram.org/) and Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship (https://pickeringfellowship.org/) are recruitment programs that help the Department build a workforce that represents the diversity of America. The programs are the Department of State’s premiere diversity Foreign Service recruitment programs and target students with outstanding leadership skills, academic achievement, and financial need. They attract highly talented and qualified candidates to the Foreign Service who represent ethnic, racial, gender, social, and geographic diversity. Each program currently selects thirty fellows per year through a nationwide competition.
The fellowships prepare students for Foreign Service careers by providing them with financial assistance towards the completion of a two years master’s degree, professional development training, two summer internships, and mentoring by Foreign Service Officers. Upon completion of their master’s degrees and Foreign Service entry requirements, Pickering and Rangel Fellows enter the Foreign Service as Entry Level Officers for a service obligation of a minimum of five years. The Pickering and Rangel programs combined have increased the Foreign Service Generalist minority rate by 29%.