With Secretary of State Antony Blinken looking on, Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, chief diversity and inclusion officer, delivers remarks at the State Department on April 12.

With Secretary of State Antony Blinken looking on, Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, chief diversity and inclusion officer, delivers remarks at the State Department on April 12. Freddie Everett / State Department

New State Department Diversity Officer Met with Praise

Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley will hold the newly created position. 

The appointment of a veteran diplomat to be the first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the State Department earlier this week met with a warm reception as the department has had mixed success at improving diversity in its workforce. 

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, who joined the Foreign Service in 1985 and has 30 years of diplomatic experience, would hold the new position. The Government Accountability Office reported last year that from fiscal 2002 to 2018 there was “uneven progress” in strengthening diversity at the State Department. 

“From Me Too, to Black Lives Matter, to the recent attacks on Asian Americans, we’re grappling with the profound ways that race, gender, and other parts of our identity have so often been grounds for discrimination, dehumanization, and violence – for treating people as ‘less-than,’ ” said Blinken during his remarks. “The State Department has to reckon with this too – and foster within our building the kind of inclusive environment that we’re fighting out – that we’re fighting for out in the world.” 

He added, “this problem is as old as the department itself” and “goes much deeper than any one institution or any one administration – and it’s perpetuated by policies, practices and people to this day.” 

Specifically, Abercrombie-Winstanley will establish a framework to bolster diversity and inclusion in the workforce, align diversity efforts across the department and help to finalize and implement a departmentwide “Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan,” said the secretary. He stressed that she will hold the department accountable for making improvements. 

When Blinken first announced the creation of the position in February, he also asked each bureau to designate a deputy assistant secretary to serve on a new Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council.

“With our focus now on identifying and implementing the structural changes necessary to bring it about, we will ensure that the Department of State becomes the organization that deserves the devotion, the sacrifice and the dedication that so many of us have freely given,” said Abercrombie-Winstanley. 

Many expressed their excitement about Abercrombie-Winstanley being appointed to the position and what she will do. 

Laura Kennedy, a retired career diplomat, tweeted, “I’ve seen her work for years to highlight this issue,” as she is a former State Department and Leadership Council for Women in National Security colleague. This is “a great pick” by Blinken. “We can [and] must do better.” 

FP 21, a nonpartisan think tank focused on transforming U.S. foreign policy processes and institutions, said in a statement on Friday it “look[s] forward to hearing more in the coming months, including the appointments for an inclusion/diversity council and the [Deputy Assistant Secretary] point-people named in each bureau.” The group noted that advocates, including FP21, have “touted the importance of transparent data and accountability, a focus on retention and promotion, and structural incentives in advancing research-backed, proven-effective, and lasting change for diversity.” 

The 25 Year Apprenticeship, an initiative that provides career guidance for aspiring diplomats, and glifaa (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing equity and diversity in the foreign affairs agencies and promoting LGBT human rights around the world, also welcomed the appointment. 

GAO found that the total proportion of racial and ethnic minorities in full-time, permanent State Department positions increased from 28% in fiscal 2002 to 32% in fiscal 2018 with variations among specific races and ethnicities. During the same period, the number of women at the department decreased slightly from 44% in 2002 to 43% in 2018. Also, with a few exceptions, whites and men had the highest promotion rates and held the majority of leadership positions among the career service and Foreign Service.

More recently, in the wake of the murder of six Asian American women in Atlanta and other acts of violence against Asian Americans, Politico reported last month that many Asian Americans in the Foreign Service feel they are subject to “assignment restrictions” due to concerns they will be perceived as disloyal or susceptible to foreign influence in certain countries. 

During his speech, Blinken said that several weeks ago he received a letter from State Department employee organizations, 17 affinity groups, and individual Civil and Foreign Service employees offering recommendations about improving recruitment and retention of diverse talent. 

“They did it because they want to be part of a department where everyone is treated with respect, regardless of who they are,” he said. “And because they know this will make us stronger. Our country is so fortunate to have public servants like these.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.