By Kristin Gilmore
Following a series of community-led conversations about structural racism in the United States in August 2020, then-Ambassador Terry Branstad called on the embassy and consulates in Mission China to establish Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Councils. The ambassador charged the councils “to make policy recommendations to enhance the Mission’s efforts to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse workforce, and foster an environment that welcomes diversity of background, experience, and thought.”
In response, more than 100 volunteers from Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Wuhan established D&I Councils. During the past year, Mission China councils affected positive change, meeting the ambassador’s call to action. Embassy Beijing’s Council conducted mitigating unconscious bias training for more than 530 personnel in English and Mandarin. Consulate General Guangzhou’s Council helped institute diversity, equity, and inclusion goals into every supervisor’s work requirement statement. Consulate General Shanghai facilitated small-group conversations on race in America that helped employees—including post leadership—understand employees’ diverse experiences. After a November 2020 workplace climate survey revealed the need for more focus on inclusion, Consulate General Shenyang’s Council initiated conversations and activities to encourage community building and mutual understanding. After resuming operations in April, Consulate General Wuhan presented the results of the inaugural Mission China’s D&I Councils Workshop to all staff.
At the first Mission China D&I Councils Workshop, May 20–21, members identified common goals to advance the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion across the Mission and established actionable recommendations for the year ahead.
After the workshop, Beijing Council Member Sean McLeod said, “I felt energized by my colleagues from across the Mission and inspired by embassy leadership to implement our priorities to help Mission China attract talent from across the Department and look more like the country we serve.”
Kristin Gilmore is the internal unit chief in the economic section at Embassy Beijing and a member of Embassy Beijing’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.