July 21, 2021

Congressman Castro Introduces Comprehensive Bill to Promote Diversity and Inclusion at the U.S. Department of State

WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact re-introduced the Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act.  This legislation establishes a senior-level office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to advocate for diversity within the Department and changes promotion and other practices to improve retention and equity.

The original cosponsors of the bill are Representatives Norma J. Torres, Adriano Espaillat, Dina Titus, Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia, Albio Sires, Andre Carson, Steve Cohen, Jared Huffman, Veronica Escobar, Ted Lieu, Gerald E. Connolly, Mark Pocan, Andy Kim, Henry J. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Judy Chu, Sara Jacobs, Ed Chase, Ro Khanna, James P. McGovern, David N. Cicilline, Barbara Lee, Ritchie Torres, and Jahana Hayes.

The Diversity and Inclusion at the State Department Act has been endorsed by the American Foreign Service Association, Truman National Security Project, Foreign Policy for America, Center for American Progress, Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, and Inclusive America.

“America’s diplomats who represent the United States to the world should reflect the diversity of the American people. For years, the State Department has failed to look like the face of our country and the lack of diversity in the diplomatic corps is appalling,” said Congressman Castro. “Our country’s diversity and heritage as a nation of immigrants is one of our greatest strengths, providing a competitive advantage over adversaries. The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act will increase accountability for retaining and promoting a diverse diplomatic workforce that both better reflects our values and advances our interests around the world.” 


The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act establishes the senior level position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to advocate for diversity within the State Department.  This bill also establishes the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council accountable for implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The bill changes promotion practices to improve retention and fairness, establishes a formal mentoring program for civil and foreign service members, and expands offerings of the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.

Quotes from supporters:

“It is paramount to codify the position of the Chief Diversity Officer and enact these key efforts that would increase retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Department of State and across the Foreign Service as a whole. The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act also looks to formalize mentorship in the Foreign Service, which is an initiative that AFSA’s membership has long supported.” — Ambassador Eric Rubin, President of American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).

“I am proud to support this important bill and thank Rep. Castro for his tireless leadership to ensure that the talent the State Department attracts and retains truly reflects the diversity of America,” said Jenna Ben Yehuda, President & CEO of the Truman National Security Project. “By creating better promotion practices and establishing a formal mentorship program, this bill will support the growth of a more diverse foreign and civil service, thereby working to ensure that our nation’s most complex challenges will be tackled by the full breadth of talent our country has to offer.” — Jenna Ben-Yehuda, President and CEO of the Truman National Security Project

“Rep. Castro’s bill to meaningfully improve diversity and inclusion at the State Department is an important step to ensuring that American diplomatic efforts are supported by the full scope of diversity and talent in our country. A progressive foreign policy that leads with diplomacy requires a strong, diverse, talented pool of diplomats and this bill would help fill that pool and put U.S. diplomacy on a stronger footing for the future. The Center for American Progress is proud to support this bill and looks forward to supporting its passage.” — Katrina Mulligan, Acting Vice President of the National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress

“A Chief Diversity Officer is a paramount and necessary position at the U.S Department of State, and this bill is a clear indication of that. This position will ensure that someone is advocating for diversity at State and in the Foreign Service, which will develop and amplify equitable policies for our country. I commend Representative Castro and other bill authors for their initiative to promote and support women and people of color in the foreign service. Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) believe global issues demand a variety of perspectives, therefore, it is important that women of color be given the opportunity to be represented and heard at every level of government. This bill can move our country in a way that will benefit all Americans.” — Shalonda Spencer, WCAPS Executive Director

“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and the American people are best represented by a foreign service that reflects the myriad cultures, experiences, and backgrounds that define the United States,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director of Foreign Policy for America. "The Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of State Act is an important tool to help modernize and strengthen our State Department at a critical moment in our nation’s history as we grapple with institutional racism and structural inequality at home and abroad. We applaud Representative Castro for his leadership on this issue and his work to ensure America’s foreign service is resourced and ready to meet the current global moment."

Mark Hanis, co-founder of Inclusive America said “we need to ensure a more inclusive State Department - from interns and foreign service officers to Ambassadors and senior leadership - in order to ensure our foreign policy is successfully executed. By leaving segments of our people out of policymaking rooms, we leave out great policies.”