February 21, 2024

“Secretary Blinken’s commitment to diversity is unprecedented,” a State Department spokesman told TNR in a statement citing numerous advances and programs. “The State Department’s approach to [DEI] has been cited by the Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council as a model for other federal agencies…. The Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (S/ODI) has, and continues to receive, strong support from the Secretary, his Chief of Staff Suzy George, and senior leaders from across the Department.”

Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done. Harassment, in particular, is a concern. Two sources familiar with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion explained that there is a gap between the number of people reporting harassment, assault, and bullying and the number of people experiencing it. That’s in part because people don’t trust the processes that exist for reporting harassment. The fear of retaliation is a major concern. “People are afraid to talk,” Starr, the podcaster, told me.

One foreign service officer, Vera Partem, is suing Blinken in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for alleged improper tenure review and denial of due process. Partem believes that she was dismissed in retaliation for speaking out.