By Amanda J. Richard
The Office of Civil Rights and the Bureau of Human Resources’ Diversity and Inclusion Program hosted an insightful discussion on diversity and inclusion in the George Marshall Auditorium, Jan. 6. The event drew hundreds of Department of State employees, and in the packed auditorium, the audience listened to a candid conversation between Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (DGHR) Carol Z. Perez and Ambassador John J. Sullivan, former deputy secretary of state. The event was also streamed live and recorded on the Department’s broadcasting network, BNET.
Sullivan shared personal stories from throughout his career related to diversity and remarked on topics such as unconscious bias. He reflected on his first days as deputy secretary, and explained how recruiting a diverse staff for his office was an important goal for him, and once implemented, it ultimately created a more successful team.
“The more it’s known that the State Department is a place where talent and merit matter, the easier it will be for us to recruit diverse talent,” said Sullivan. “It helps the substance of our mission if we have the entirety of our population, of our knowledge, and talent base participating in our diplomacy.”
Both Sullivan and Perez have been influential in the diversity and inclusion space, promoting diversity within their core values and creating programs to ensure inclusion. The Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Program is a capstone to a series of conversations and programming that Sullivan has participated in since joining the Department in 2017.
During an introduction to the event, Josue M. Barrera, senior advisor for diversity and inclusion, highlighted some recent developments including the creation of a task force to develop a Department-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, the development of open conversations within bureaus on diversity and inclusion, and the launch of a Foreign Service Institute course, on unconscious bias—both online and in the classroom. These initiatives are forging the path for a more open and respectful culture.
“We aim to capture a comprehensive picture of the great work happening across the Department,” said Barerra. “And we challenge the agency to do even more to ensure that each of our colleagues feels valued, respected, and has equal opportunity to contribute to our great mission.”
Amanda J. Richard is the multimedia editor at State Magazine.