top of page

Press Release | Rebuilding After the Violence: State Must Improve on Diversity – June 9, 2020

Jun 9, 2020

AAD Staff

Washington, D.C. – The American Academy of Diplomacy, a nonpartisan and nongovernmental organization, includes former US diplomats and other senior retired officials. All of them have worked to promote and defend the US interest in the world. The Academy strongly supports the peaceful demonstrators in their tens of thousands across America who demand that the callous murder of George Floyd be the last of these racially motivated crimes. The demonstrators and those who have spoken out remind us that America cannot lead the world unless at home we live up to the values we so proudly defend abroad.

We believe that a diplomatic service and other representatives of US foreign policy need to look like America, an essential part of representing our country abroad. It shows the world that a truly great nation draws its strength from all of its citizens.

The State Department falls short of this goal. Women and minorities continue to be significantly underrepresented in the Department of State, most glaringly in the senior ranks. Out of 189 U.S. Ambassadors serving abroad today, there are three African American and four Hispanic career diplomats.

Thus, the Academy supports the following five commitments, the implementation of which can begin immediately:

1. The Department of State should publicly and repeatedly reaffirm and strengthen its previous commitments to establish a culture of diversity and inclusion in the Department of State. The Director General of the Foreign Service’s recent call for employees to engage in honest conversations with their peers is a good start.

2. The Department of State should expand and seek to substantially and verifiably increase the recruitment of minorities and women. This should include outreach to historically minority-serving institutions, increasing the number of Diplomats in Residence at these institutions, increasing the number of internships from minority and women candidates, and targeting future minority and women candidates starting at the high school level. The Department should significantly expand its ROTC-like fellowship programs for aspiring minority officers.

3. The Department of State should strengthen existing mentorship programs to specifically support minority and women officers. Senior officers should be assigned to mentor and sponsor younger officers from different backgrounds than their own. The Department should study best practices of how corporations sponsor future leaders who are minorities and women.

4. The Department of State should work to increase the assignment and promotions of minority and women candidates to the senior ranks and positions of the Foreign Service. A special effort should be placed on the retention of middle and senior level officers.

5. The Department should establish a culture of accountability for officers to ensure that they fulfill their diversity and inclusion objectives.

We recognize and applaud those in the State Department who are trying to meet this challenge. We call on the leadership of the Department to support them by acting on these five recommendations as part of their individual and institutional response to the killing of George Floyd.

This statement has been approved by the Academy's board.

Thomas R. Pickering AAD Chairman

Ronald E. Neumann AAD President

END ###

bottom of page