Monday, November 17, 2014

Searching For Diversity in the Foreign Service

PBS' show "To The Contrary" had a nice piece this week on the Foreign Service's efforts to become less pale, male and Yale.

The show does a good job of showing where we have succeeded and where we have a ways yet to go.

Personally, I would have liked for them to talk more about the lack of American Indians at State. I think there are only about 35 of us throughout all of State's Foreign and Civil Service. That number would be less than the percentage of the population if it were entirely FSOs. American Indians make up about two percent of the total U.S. population. At 13,000 Foreign Service Officers and Specialists, that number is only 1/5 of one percent. When you consider the additional 11,000 Civil Service employees of the Department, you begin to see exactly how small the representation of American Indians at State really is.

I know it is hard to recruit Indian people. People in my own tribe don't understand why I would do this. Why I would go so far from home. But it is important because we represent an important part of America's story, one that the world needs to hear. We are uniquely situated to talk about this country, warts and all, and our willingness to still serve it and believe in the best that it can be. And in communities with minority populations, previously occupied peoples, or indigenous populations, we are uniquely able to speak the language so to speak.

While I am a member of the newly formed employee affinity group for American Indians and I have in the past gone to speak to universities with significant Indian populations, it is my hope that I will one day be able to work in recruiting for the Department and hopefully make our numbers more representative.

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