State Department finalizes five-year plan to boost diversity

The State Department on Tuesday announced it has finalized a five-year strategic plan to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA). 

The broad plan will make DEIA advancement part of department employees’ job performance criteria and will factor into career opportunities and senior performance pay, according to a press release. 

“The State Department is our nation’s oldest cabinet agency, our nation’s lead foreign affairs agency, and its employees are the face of the United States to the rest of the world.  In order to effectively pursue our foreign policy goals and ensure our national security, it is imperative we create a workforce that truly reflects the country we represent,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement announcing the plan. 

“Our country’s diversity is our greatest strength. When we fully leverage everyone and everything our nation has to offer, our foreign policy is stronger, smarter, and more creative,” he added.

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, will oversee the implementation of the plan, which runs through 2026. Blinken appointed Abercrombie-Winstanley, a longtime State Department official, to the newly created role last year. 

The department will conduct “barrier analyses” as well as a DEIA Climate Survey and chronicle “the historic impact of discrimination in the Department through a digital storytelling campaign.”  

Recruitment and retainment of a diverse workforce will also be a focus, and the department will examine the hiring process for entry barriers. 

The work will further seek to promote “a disability-inclusive culture” and religious inclusion. 

President Biden pledged during his 2020 campaign to increase diversity in the government workforce. He also ran on a plan to appoint a Cabinet that would represent the diversity America.

Just after his inauguration last year, the president signed executive orders to advance racial equity and withdrew an order from former President Trump that would have limited diversity training in the federal government.

The State Department’s newly finalized strategic plan is a response to Biden’s June 2021 Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, a governmentwide diversity initiative.

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