Blinken Announces New DEI Chief

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the Freedom House 2023 Annual Awards Ceremony, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the appointment of a new chief diversity and inclusion officer at the State Department on Tuesday, 10 months after the role became vacant.

Blinken said Zakiya Carr Johnson will be the new CDIO and is expected to create a workforce that “reflects America.” Carr Johnson previously worked for the State Department from 2010 to 2017.

“American diplomacy can only succeed if it fully harnesses all of the talent that our nation has to offer,” Blinken said in a statement. “That is why I created the position of CDIO to elevate [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility] within our organization and give it the dedicated senior-level attention that it deserves. … We will continue to pursue this mission aggressively, because recruiting, nurturing, and promoting the most capable workforce possible is critical to our national security.”

Carr Johnson built several organizations that work with minority groups during her break from the State Department. Her appointment comes as the department is experiencing a major “retention” problem among women and minorities.

“Her previous work promoting entrepreneurship and access to opportunity for underrepresented populations, as well as her commitment to inclusive leadership make us stronger, smarter, and more innovative,” Blinken said.

The move also comes after an internal survey from the State Department in 2022 found that 44% of respondents said they experienced discrimination, and 27% said they faced harassment, including sexual harassment. A government accountability report last year also noted that the majority of federal employees who experienced discrimination and harassment chose not to report it.

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