Legislation Introduced to Increase Diversity in State Department

 re-introduced the Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 to ensure that the U.S. Foreign Service reflects the rich composition of
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Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights, re-introduced the Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 to ensure that the U.S. Foreign Service reflects the rich composition of the American citizenry.

The legislation establishes a program to identify, attract and welcome diverse mid-career professionals into the Foreign Service.

During the 116th Congress, the Represent America Abroad Act in 2020 received bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by 117 Members of Congress. The bill was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a unanimous voice vote last year.

“The Biden administration’s intentional push to put racial equity and diversity at the center of every facet of their policy agenda is absolutely crucial to the success of their initiatives,” Bass said. “This bill is consistent with that effort. To have a successful foreign policy, our foreign service must look like America. The Foreign Service Officer workforce must mirror our commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to effectively advance American values on the world stage. For years, the State Department has expressed a commitment to building a workforce in that vision. I look forward to working with both the State Department and my colleagues here in Congress to increase the diversity at the mid-career and senior levels among our diplomatic corps.”

The Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 would establish a program known as the “Represent America Abroad Mid-career Foreign Service Entry Program”. The program is to be created no later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the bill with the mission of ensuring that our country’s diplomatic workforce reflects the diverse composition of the United States.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report suggesting that the State Department look at the longstanding issues contributing to its diversity problems and do a better job of addressing barriers to equal opportunity in its workforce. In December, Congressmember Bass called for the passage of this bill in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy. She wrote, in part:

“..,passing this bill is a vital step for building diversity, restoring the career ranks, and enabling better U.S. diplomacy. And the face America presents abroad—including, crucially, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—will at last begin to look more like the country we actually are.”

Read the full bill here.

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