WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement in reaction to the release of two GAO reports examining State Department practices to advance workplace diversity and joint efforts with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to advance equity and support marginalized groups overseas.
Requested by Chairman Menendez last year, one report found that the State Department “has not taken sufficient actions to enhance accountability for its workplace DEIA goals” and recommended more substantive mechanisms to measure progress. The other report focused on how joint State Department and USAID strategies assisting “marginalized groups abroad, including ethnic groups, women, and youth” could be improved in response to recent executive orders.
“For far too long, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility have been an afterthought in American foreign policy, to the detriment of underrepresented communities worldwide, to those at home seeking to serve their country, and to our national security,” Chairman Menendez said. “While the GAO points to distinct progress since the Trump administration’s decimation of the State Department, and President Biden has since made further progress through his executive orders, the findings make clear that we have to overcome systemic racial, gender, and other barriers to all Americans entering and advancing through the ranks of our foreign policy architecture. This recognition of the immense challenges we faced when these reports were commissioned requires us to once again take stock of what we have accomplished since President Biden took office, and what remains. That is why I am proud to convene a full Committee hearing next week with the State Department and USAID’s Chief Diversity Officers to hold the Administration accountable for its commitments, and measure our progress thus far in confronting these challenges. I look forward to hearing from and supporting witnesses’ efforts to carry out this invaluable work.”
The Committee’s upcoming hearing entitled “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in U.S. Diplomacy and Development” is scheduled to take place Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Currently slated to testify before the Committee are State Department Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gina K. Abercrombie-Winstanley and USAID Chief Diversity Officer Neneh Diallo.