A Message to the Foreign Service from the Director of the Office of Civil Rights


Since coming to USIA in 1993, I have learned much about the Foreign Service. I marvel at the ability of Officers and Specialists to work diligently in extraordinarily trying circumstances in overseas assignments, far away from relatives and friends at home in the USA. While conducting daily business overseas in foreign languages, you work long hours in complex societies whose cultural nuances must be learned rapidly in order to communicate effectively our foreign policy objectives. Added to these demands is the necessity for you and your families to move long distances every two to three years for onward assignments. These particular demands are rather unique to those of you who have accepted the challenges inherent in pursuing a career in the Foreign Service.

The work place, especially under these conditions, can be a minefield of regulations and laws which must be followed. The USIA Office of Civil Rights (OCR) wants to help you understand those laws that pertain to EEO. Understanding EEO legislation can help managers avoid misunderstandings that might lead to complaints. Knowledge of EEO laws can also increase employees? awareness of their rights. I know that most FSOS are reluctant to file EEO complaints. For this reason, I am especially eager to let you know that OCR has chosen to use the ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution tool of mediation as a means of resolving conflicts. Mediation can frequently obviate the need to initiate the formal complaint process.

You will observe through the newsletter and forthcoming website (which will be announced in a broadcast bulletin) that OCR is not only a place for complaints. There are a variety of outreach programs designed to enhance understanding of the goals of Civil Rights legislation. In the mentoring program, managers share their expertise and experience with employees who desire to improve their opportunities for career advancement. A new mentoring program for FSOS was introduced by OCR with advice from Ambassador Kenton Keith. If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program, please contact OCR.

You will observe through the newsletter and forthcoming website (which will be announced in a broadcast bulletin) that OCR is not only a place for complaints. There are a variety of outreach programs designed to enhance understanding of the goals of Civil Rights legislation. In the mentoring program, managers share their expertise and experience with employees who desire to improve their opportunities for career advancement. A new mentoring program for FSOS was introduced by OCR with advice from Ambassador Kenton Keith. If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program, please contact OCR.

The Partnership in Education initiative provides needed outreach into the youth community of Washington, D.C. by providing educational institutions in the ADOPT-A-SCHOOL program with USIA tutors who volunteer time to help youngsters with their school work.

OCR is also a resource for those of you planning programs on African American History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Women?s Equality Day, and other similar commemorative events. These programs can assist FSOS in explaining to foreign audiences how America manages the challenges of a wonderfully diverse society. OCR is your resource on these issues.

The Diversity Recruitment Outreach Program is designed to make minorities and women aware of Foreign Service career opportunities. This and several other programs are managed by FSOS working in OCR.

In order to better serve the needs of the Foreign Service, OCR has been granted two full-time, complement/slotted positions for FSOS. When these positions appear on the Open Assignments bid lists, I encourage those officers who are interested to contact OCR to learn more about what the positions entail. The overall duties will include advising my staff and me on Foreign Service practices and Foreign Policy issues, overseeing OCR?s publications, assisting with speaker programs, managing art exhibits, and writing speeches.

I look forward to hearing from colleagues in the Foreign Service and welcome suggestions that you may have on how this office can better serve you! Contact the OCR by phone at (202) 619-5151, by E-mail at hbaldwin@usia.gov, or by fax at (202) 260-0406.


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