President Menendez leads Senator Markey and other SFRC MPs in introducing State Department Inclusion Act

Legislation to strengthen diversity within the Department through recruitment, retention and promotion strategies; address and apologize for the role of the Department and Congress in the “fear of lavender”; direct the Ministry to report, document and fully investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault by employees


WASHINGTON (December 16, 2021) – United States Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) And the entire Democratic bench of the Foreign Relations Committee, today joins Bob Menendez (DN.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in introduce the 2021 State Department Inclusion Act, new legislation to assess and strengthen the State Department’s efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion. By requiring the Department to develop and strengthen recruitment, retention and promotion strategies and mechanisms to increase workforce diversity, including through the creation of the Office of the Director General of Diversity and Expansion existing diversity initiatives, the legislation seeks to confront and correct the Department’s well-documented gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this bill to ensure that our diplomatic corps fully represents our country’s diversity in posts around the world,” said Senator Markey. Passing this legislation will also help us address the wrongs of the ‘fear of lavender’ which has seen the lives of State Department employees turned upside down simply for who they loved or how they identified, and it will put in place protections to help eradicate the scourge of sexual harassment.


“The State Department’s long history of failure to cultivate a work environment that empowers underrepresented and minority employees and celebrates the diversity of its workforce is utterly unacceptable. As I have said repeatedly, diversity within the ranks of the State Department, at all levels, is both a moral and national security imperative, and the diversity of the American people is our greatest strength – we just can’t afford to lead with anything less than that. Fully representing the broad and rich spectrum of origins of all Americans and upholding core American values ​​abroad are of the utmost importance, ” President Menendez said. “If the United States is to continue to legitimately hold leadership positions on the world stage and amplify the voices of those demanding significant change, we must ensure that the doors to our national security bureaucracy are open to all. those who wish to serve, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, creed or any other historically under-represented status. As the first Latino President of the SFRC and as a high-ranking Latino in Congress, I am immensely proud to unveil this critical legislation in recognition of our ability to conduct strong diplomacy and project democratic ideals to the abroad is built on our championship of diversity, equity, and inclusion at home.

Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D. -Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.) And Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

“Ensuring that State Department personnel reflect the diversity of the United States is important to US diplomatic efforts and to solidifying US global leadership. To achieve this, it is essential to break down the many barriers that have historically prevented Americans from minority groups from serving their country ”, said Senator Booker. “This common sense legislation will help develop strategies that will improve the Department’s recruitment and retention policies to build a more diverse workforce. It also helps create a safer workplace by establishing important mechanisms to strengthen the State Department’s ability to investigate and request allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by State Department employees. accounts to those who engage in such activities.

“A strong State Department is essential to our efforts to maintain and advance US diplomacy around the world. And the key to a strong foreign policy is to harness America’s full potential by ensuring that the State Department team reflects the rich diversity and comprehensive talents of the American people. This legislation aims to do just that by helping ensure that the Department of State better reflects a portrait of America and by strengthening retention and promotion strategies that promote equity and inclusion in the Department’s ranks. ‘State “, said Senator Van Hollen.

“Our diplomatic corps exists to represent the United States abroad, and that representation should reflect the diversity of our nation. This bill aims to help the State Department to become a true mirror of our society ”, said Senator Shaheen. “I am also delighted that this law includes provisions to adopt a stricter policy against sexual assault and harassment, which should not be tolerated at any level of government. I will continue to prioritize legislation that strengthens our diplomatic corps and invests in diversity initiatives to increase representation across our security structures.

“I am proud to co-sponsor the State Department’s Inclusion Act of 2021, which will modernize the State Department’s diversity and inclusion policies to support the women and men who represent America at the foreigner. This bill will help ensure that the American diplomatic corps represents the rich diversity of the American people. Relying on a fuller range of horizons will translate into stronger, smarter and more innovative policy outcomes for US interests ”, Senator Kaine said.

“As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the State Department and USAID Management, I am proud to support this bill which calls for a comprehensive plan to improve the Department’s approach. State of diversity, equity and inclusion with the goal of increasing recruitment and retention. under-represented groups ”, said Senator Cardin. “Our bill will help move the State Department into the 21st century, and will also rectify some past wrongs, exonerating at least 1,000 people who were wrongly dismissed for alleged homosexuality in the 1950s and into the 1960s.

“Americans who wish to serve their country should never face barriers or discrimination based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or mother tongue.” said Senator Merkley. “We must celebrate those who pursue a life of public service and ensure that these opportunities and the chance to reach the highest levels are available to all. The State Department’s Inclusion Act 2021 is an important step in the right direction to review and advance the department’s efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation with my colleagues in the Senate,” Senator Coons said. “American diplomats must reflect the great diversity of our country. Indeed, one of the State Department’s many strengths lies in the unique perspectives and backgrounds of these dedicated officials within the agency. This bill would ensure that our diplomats work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. It would expand the department’s diversity initiatives and strengthen the recruitment and retention of a workforce representing all of American society. This bill will help create a State Department that will more effectively defend American interests and values ​​at home and abroad. “

“American diplomats representing our interests and values ​​abroad should reflect our diversity at home. It is high time to modernize the State Department, and this bill will help us build an even stronger diplomatic corps comprising communities that have historically been excluded from these rooms ”, said Senator Murphy.

In addition to acknowledging the Department’s and Congress’ involvement in the “Lavender Fear”, the 2021 State Department Inclusion Act establishes a Reconciliation Board to consider grievances of former employees who have been wrongly dismissed because of their alleged sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also directs the ministry to report, document and rigorously investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault made by employees, and to create a permanent “lavender fear” exhibit at the Museum. National Diplomacy, developing Senator Menendez’s letter in 2021. for the commemoration of the wrongful dismissal of at least 1,000 State Department personnel in the 1950s and 1960s because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.

Building on President Menendez’s introduction in 2020 of the Federal Employment Act, which requires the development and implementation of a government-wide initiative to promote, develop and retain diverse talent within the federal workforce, the new legislation is a continuation of the various efforts Senator Menendez’s watchdog to tackle diversity within the ministry, including his State Department Inclusion Act of 2020, Lavender Crime Victims Exemption Act, Where TO LIKE Act, and 2020 SFRC Democratic Personnel report
revealing that ministry employees believed senior management did not encourage or embrace diverse teams, which, together with the Trump administration’s demeaning and damaging responses to racial injustice, contributed to a historic downfall staff morale.

In 2020, Senator Menendez also commissioned a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to examine the demographic makeup of the State Department’s workforce, differences in promotion outcomes for various groups within the workforce and the extent to which the department has identified barriers to diversity in its workforce. In particular, the GAO report highlighted critical retention issues, continued under-representation and a significant shortage of minority individuals and women in leadership positions.

Find a copy of the legislation HERE.

Find a section-by-section summary of the legislation HERE.

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