Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, plans to launch a new initiative to improve diversity in foreign service. This includes a requirement that at least one minority candidate be considered for all ambassadorial positions.
He noted there was a significant gap between the racial makeup of the State Department and the American population. “We have a great diversity gap in the State Department. We need a State Department that reflects the American people, reflects who we are. The State Department must redouble our efforts to increase diversity at the highest ranks of the department, including at the ambassador level,” Tillerson said.
About 12 percent of senior Foreign Service officers are people of color, and that is “about the same” for the agency’s senior executive service contingent.
Tillerson has instructed staff that at least one minority must be considered and interviewed for every open ambassador position.
State Department Press Secretary, Heather Nauert said even if this plan doesn’t produce immediate results, it will advance the agency’s diversity goals in the future. “When we look at ambassadorial candidates, when we look at that pool, we want a minority represented in those interviews, to be interviewed for the job. And if they’re not ready for that position yet, that gives us the opportunity to know who they are and put them on our radar. And it helps us get them ready for the future,” she said.
Tillerson also announced he will retain “all of our fellowship and internship programs”. He plans to boost the agency’s recruitment efforts at college campuses, particularly historically black colleges, and universities.
He said, “While our diplomats in residence at Howard, Spellman, Morehouse, and Florida A&M do an outstanding job ensuring that people understand the opportunities at the State Department, there are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities, and there’s so much more we can do to raise awareness about the range of careers at State. We also want to expand our footprint at minority-focused job fairs, and we can do more to recruit from one of the most diverse and proven talent pools, as I mentioned: our U.S. Military.”
Nauert said she didn’t have a timeframe for when the agency will begin ramping up its recruitment efforts, but she did say the initiative is “important to the secretary”.