This week, the U.S. State Department announced the appointment of a former Ambassador to a newly created role of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO). The new position was announced in February as part of the Biden administration’s focus on diversity in the Federal government. Biden’s cabinet is the most diverse in recent history, with the sitting 24-member cabinet (2 positions are pending confirmation) including 11 women, six Black members, four Hispanic members, and the first ever Native American to serve at the cabinet level.
The State Department employs over 75,000 and has struggled with diversity issues in the past. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley served as Ambassador to Malta from 2012 to 2016, and rejoins the agency as CDIO, reporting directly to the Secretary and tasked with developing a diversity-based framework, aligning efforts across the workforce, and holding management accountable for creating a more inclusive State Department. She will also finalize and implement the D&I strategic plan for the agency.
As part of the announcement, Secretary Blinken said, “There’s a hallway in Mahogany Row on the seventh floor that leads to my office. It’s lined with portraits of former secretaries dating back to Thomas Jefferson. It’s hard not to notice that almost every one of the secretaries along that hallway is a white man.”
With the creation of this CDIO post, the State Department shows its commitment to reflect the diversity of the US and embraces the strength that comes from diverse points of view.