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RQ: Diversity in the Foreign Service

with 6 comments

This week’s reader question asks,

How diverse is the Foreign Service?  How diverse is the population of SEOs?  Are there similarities or differences?

The Foreign Service is very, very diverse across both race, age, and sex.  At larger posts you can have people from almost every State in the mission with a multitude of backgrounds and experiences to share.  I’m honestly not sure what kind of affirmative action hiring the Department does, if any, but there is clearly no shortage of “minority” employees in the Department.

Security Engineers, however, tend to be white males.  In my experience the second most common subset of SEOs are Asian males, followed by African American males.  Females of any kind are chronically underrepresented in the SEO ranks, but those female SEOs are excellent without exception.  The median age for entry-level SEOs is younger than that of Foreign Service Officers, as many join right out of college. Geographically, there seem to be a lot of SEOs that come from the south (Texas, in particular, is probably the best-represented state).


Written by OSB

09/06/2011 at 07:48

6 Responses

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  1. I will have to respectfully disagree. According to the Office of Personal Management 9th report April 2010 Hispanics make up only 4.9% of the State Dept employees however Hispanics are now 16% of the population. Very, very disappointing and not reflective of the citizens the State Dept is suppose to represent.

    Gerardo Rodriquez

    10/06/2011 at 07:56

    • Well, I don’t think it’s fair to say that since one ethnic minority is underrepresented in State that it is not ethnically diverse. Could you provide a link to the report that has those statistics? I’d be interested in reading it.


      14/06/2011 at 19:41

      • I was unable to post a link but google the report below.

        Hispanic Employment Program Statistical Reports

        Gerardo Rodriquez

        14/06/2011 at 20:41

    • I fully agree with Gerardo. Fact: The State Department has wavered at 4.0 of the State
      Department employee base for the last 30 years. Source: State Department HR statistics going back to 1980.
      Those have been the baseline statistics for Hispanic, Blacks and primarily Native Americans. Asians are respectably well represented. Just 2 weeks ago, State Department diversity advocate, Senator Robert Menendez at a senatorial nomination review of some ambassadorial level nominations made clear the same message as Gerardo. So, let’s start at a genuine and statistcially accepted baseline: we are not nearly fully diverse in correlation with the general American populus. Senator Menendez said “State diversity statistics are among the worse in the federal goverment. ” He closed his review by stating to Ambassador Greenfield – Thomas , “I know you will be a great Director General.” I agree fully.

      Raul Roy Chavera

      23/03/2012 at 11:24

      • State is under no obligation to hire a workforce representative of the ethnic diversity of the United States, just like every other federal agency.


        25/03/2012 at 04:06

  2. Thanks. It seems the latest data wasn’t available for State in both the number of Hispanics working for the Department and the number of new hires. That being said, 11% of the new hire positions were from State in 2011. This also only seems to be Civil Service (I couldn’t find any mention of Foreign Service); I would be surprised if the FS numbers were a bit more equitable.

    In any case there is clearly progress to be made. State seems to be middle of the pack when it comes to Hispanics in the workforce, though.


    14/06/2011 at 22:13

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