The State Department has now included a new requirement for employment and promotion: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The document, titled “Decision Criteria for Tenure And Promotion In The Foreign Service 2022–2025,” outlines the expectation for Foreign Service employees to demonstrate DEI skills and qualities.
Consisting of 16,000 career diplomats worldwide, the Foreign Service plays a crucial role in representing American interests abroad. The DEI requirement is considered one of the five core precepts alongside communication, leadership, management, and substantive and technical experience. These competencies are vital for any Foreign Service employee to succeed in their career.
This move comes as no surprise, considering President Joe Biden’s executive order to prioritize DEI in the federal workforce. However, critics, mainly from the Right, argue that DEI rewards individuals based on identity politics rather than merit. They claim that equal opportunity and a merit-based system are being replaced with a system that discriminates against certain groups. Such critics believe that this new DEI push will lead to widespread inefficiency and underperformance in the government.
The DEI requirements at different levels of employment include promoting inclusivity, respect, and diversity in the workplace. The criteria also emphasize cultural sensitivity, collaboration, and the identification and reporting of inappropriate behaviors. For those seeking supervisory roles, the requirements extend to actively recruiting and retaining diverse teams, ensuring equitable consideration for candidates of all backgrounds, and supporting equity and accessibility for disabled employees.
To be considered for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, candidates must foster a culture of inclusion, address workplace behaviors, and promote a diplomatic workforce that reflects the diversity of the country. Despite these requirements, critics argue that the State Department’s DEI policy places racial and gender ideology above experience, skillset, and hard work.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul criticized the DEI criteria, calling it ambiguous, subjective, and a penalty for individuals based on their ability to implement DEI measures. Similarly, other commentators from conservative think tanks label the DEI policy as partisan, unconstitutional, and a distraction from the essential mission of the State Department.
It remains to be seen how the inclusion of DEI requirements will impact the State Department’s workforce and its ability to effectively represent American interests around the world.