GAO State Department Report Notes That Diversity Challenges Still Exist


The GAO report on diversity at the U.S. Department of State, released Feb. 25, is sobering but not surprising. The GAO reported that between fiscal years 2002 and 2018, the proportion of racial or ethnic minorities working full-time at the Department increased, but only by 4 percent. This is still below the overall average of the federal workforce. There are generally lower promotion rates for racial or ethnic minorities than for whites, and the proportion of racial or ethnic minorities and women was lowest at management and executive levels. Overall, numbers for minorities are very low. The GAO found that the proportion of African Americans working at the Department decreased from 17 percent to 15 percent in the same period of time.

The GAO report reflects a problem that has existed at the U.S. Department of State for some time, which is a culture that is resistant to change. Despite the number of programs, including fellowships and internships, that exist to bring in diverse voices, the ability to keep these diverse perspectives in the Department continues to fail. Bringing in numbers of diverse individuals is not enough to shake up the system when the system itself remains the same. While there are many aspects to the challenges of increasing diversity, there needs to be a top/down serious and sustained effort, not just for diversity, but for inclusion. This is not an impossible challenge. What is needed is real commitment reflected in action at all levels in the Department that works to make everyone feel a part of the team and roles are valued. There needs to be a better strategy that promotes an improved culture of inclusion that has so far been absent. Unless the gatekeepers of the current culture make a change, change won’t happen.

About Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS)

WCAPS seeks to advance the leadership and professional development of women of color in the fields of international peace, security, and conflict transformation. It has created a platform devoted to women of color that cultivates a strong voice and network for its members while encouraging dialogue and strategies for engaging in policy discussions on an international scale. Through our dedication to mentorships and partnerships and our passion for changing the global community landscape, we remain committed to achieving our vision of advancing the leadership and professional development of women of color in the fields of international peace, security and conflict transformation. To learn more about the organization, visit

Contact: Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins

Source: Women of Color Advancing Peace & Security


Categories: Federal Government

Tags: Ambassador, Civil Service, Diversity, Federal Government, Foreign Service, Government, Inclusion, Politics, State, State Department, Women, Women of Color