Department of State Diversity Statistics: Sept. 30, 2016

The Department of State recently published its diversity statistics, which allows us to do a comparison between the State Department and the U.S. as a whole!

Some Brief History

Earlier this year, the “Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, Fiscal Year 2016” came into being. One small requirement is that the State Department has to now regularly report statistics on its diversity. This was, surprisingly, not a requirement before.

The text states “not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and quadrennially thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a comprehensive report”

Now, I have yet to see as detailed of a report as requested by the act, but the State Department has published one pagers every few months this year, with the most recent published September 30, 2016.

The Current U.S. Diversity Breakdown

Before we can make any kind of comparison we need to know the U.S. demographic breakdown.

The last time the U.S. conducted a census was in 2010 (sources 1 and 2) and the pertinent results follow:

Not Hispanic: 83.7%
Hispanic: 16.3%
White: 72.4%
African American: 12.6%
American Indian: .9%
Asian: 4.8%
Native Hawaiian: .2%
Other race: 6.2%
Two or more: 2.9%
Female: 50.8%
Male: 49.2%

State Department Demographic Breakdown

The State Department breakdown includes the Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior Foreign Service (SFS) breakdown. These numbers are also included in the general statistics and thus have a **.

  Female Male
Civil Service 54.51% 45.49%
FS Generalist 40.47% 59.53%
FS Specialist 27.72% 72.28%
Total 43.75% 56.25%
  Female Male
SES** 41.00% 59.00%
SFS** 32.40% 67.60%
  Hispanic Not Hispanic Unsp
Civil Service 6.39% 93.51% 0.10%
FS Generalist 5.79% 94.18% 0.02%
FS Specialist 9.08% 90.89% 0.03%
Total 6.82% 93.12% 0.06%
  Hispanic Not Hispanic Unsp
SES** 3.77% 96.23% 0.00%
SFS** 4.40% 95.60% 0.00%
  White African American American Indian Asian Native Hawaiian Multi-race Unsp
Civil Service 60.92% 24.88% 0.50% 6.26% 0.15% 4.40% 2.88%
FS Generalist 81.62% 5.36% 0.31% 6.85% 0.05% 3.72% 2.09%
FS Specialist 75.86% 8.89% 0.38% 5.69% 0.17% 5.12% 3.89%
Total 71.10% 14.84% 0.41% 6.32% 0.12% 4.35% 2.86%
  White African American American Indian Asian Native Hawaiian Multi-race Unsp
SES** 89.96% 4.18% 0.00% 3.35% 0% 1.26% 1.26%
SFS** 87.36% 4.59% 0.19% 3.84% 0% 1.59% 2.43%

So, How Do We Look?

In short, work is needed.

Gender: Females have higher representation as employees in the civil service and less in the foreign. Specifically looking at FS Generalists (most officers) there is close to a 10 percentage point difference, which is quite large. For Specialists, the difference is greater.

A big issue is in our leadership. There is an 8 point difference between the U.S. and the SES and a whopping 16 point difference between the U.S. and the SFS.

Ethnicity: Across the board, there is little Hispanic representation. Every percentile is above 90% non-Hispanic for State, with the U.S. measure at 83% non-Hispanic. Clearly, more outreach is required here.

Race: In the Civil Service, representation is very diverse. Those who consider themselves White are still the most represented at this level, but at a difference of 11 points from U.S. demographics (with the U.S. being higher).

In the Foreign Service, the opposite takes place. There is a 9-10 point difference, with the FS Generalist being higher, African Americans are represented less by over 7 points, and Asians have a greater representation by 2 points.

Once more, the real issue lies with leadership. At the SES level there is an 18 point difference, and at the SFS level there is a 15 point difference. More Whites are represented at the top level of government than is representative of the U.S.

What To Do?

Clearly, when it comes to the Foreign Service, the Department of State needs to work on its diversification initiatives, both in outreach and acceptance. Earlier this year, Foreign Policy published an article that came to this same conclusion.

Based on the article above and my discussions with recruiters, work is being done to improve diversity, but it will take time for gains in leadership to be achieved. This is because, from entry level to SFS, it takes on average 18-20 years to reach this level. Under Secretary of State Colin Powell (2001-2005), State began a “diplomatic readiness initiative” that focused on diversity outreach. By the time Powell left his position, minority numbers increased from 12%, from when he began, to about 21%. Nearly 12 years after his tenure we are over the half way mark for entry level officers during this time to reach SFS status. Hopefully, in the next 8-10 years, as we increase the base, and experienced professionals make the SFS, our diversity will be more representative at State.

As a close, in reading the act I noticed that additional funding is being provided for fellowships that assist individuals to become Foreign Service Officers:

For those who meet the criteria to apply, I highly suggest doing so!

Finally, though I do not believe it will happen, it would be great to see the higher level education institutions that our State Department employees (especially the FS) attended. There is a strong belief that most attended Ivy League, Georgetown, George Washington, or American, and along with gender, race, and ethnic diversity, I believe it important that institutional diversity is also considered. State officials on their forums and in person have commented that the above belief is incorrect, BUT I would like to see data on it. What do you all think?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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