218. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Equal Employment Opportunity (Burroughs) to the Under Secretary of State for Management (Read)1


  • Affirmative Action Hiring Program—Recruitment Strategy

As we have discussed on several occasions, the flow of applications to the Department’s two Affirmative Action Hiring Programs has declined significantly. I do not believe, in light of the comments made by those who attended the National Black Leaders Meeting with Secretary Vance last week,2 that we can attribute this to a lack of interest in foreign affairs or lack of qualified individuals in the minority community. It is equally as unrealistic, without proof, to assume an indifference or lack [Page 909] of qualifications on the part of women. I suggest that one factor in this decline is the continued lack of a “recruitment strategy” specifically designed to attract minorities and women.

As you know, several action items resulting from the ELTF study commit the Department to improve its minority and women’s recruitment effort.3 Since this office, M/EEO, retains policy guidance and monitoring responsibility of the Affirmative Action Hiring Programs, I would like to propose additional actions to those outlined in Harry’s memo of January 244 aimed at developing a serious recruitment strategy for these programs. By working closely with M/DG, I feel we can mount a creditable recruitment effort to sustain the number of applicants needed to achieve our goals for both programs.

The proposal has two elements, one to address our immediate problem and one to address long term recruitment.

(1) Immediate recruitment actions—To client applications.

a. M/EEO in concert with M/DG should send a letter describing the Affirmative Action Hiring Programs in brief and welcoming the addressees to encourage interested women and minorities to apply. The letter would contain current announcements for both programs. These letters would be sent to my personal contacts in the community, listed National Black Leaders, Hispanic, Native Americans, and Asian American national organizations; other federal agency EEO officials; the major women’s organizations, and to those professional organizations with minority and/or women membership. There are literally hundreds of these organizations and we simply need to decide which ones promise the most benefit from a recruiting standpoint.

b. We need to immediately follow-up on the Secretary’s expressed interest in increasing the number of minority Deputy Assistant Secretaries. This would be accomplished by giving first priority to personnel currently working within the Department and the Foreign Service. Outside talent should also be considered through the establishment of an Executive Talent Bank.

c. The President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association has informed me that the Department could advertise in a syndicated column that would reach all the major minority newspapers (202) with a readership of 3.2 million. This should be explored.

d. By using a list of conferences to be held this year by women and minority group organizations i.e., NAACP, Urban League, FEW, we should consider sending an EEO sensitive representative to speak [Page 910] to interested participants and distribute recruitment literature, including that for the Special Hiring Program.

(2) Long-term recruitment actions

a. We should establish dialogue with various foundations to explore other than traditional approaches for attracting minorities and women to the Foreign Service.

b. We should develop an EEO oriented recruitment pamphlet, similar to the excellent one used by the Department of Interior, which presents the public with successful role models. Ours would show successful minorities and women at posts and in Washington on the job and deliver a realistic, positive statement regarding careers with the Foreign and Civil Service in the Department. It would give general employment information and mention our Affirmative Action Hiring Programs. It would of course indicate how and where to obtain further information and applications.

c. The Department should construct a portable exhibit, that would be used as a display at conferences and conventions sponsored by national minority and women’s organizations. It should show a well mixed, non-stereotyped workforce, again emphasis should be placed on minorities and women. This could be used by a select group of BEX recruiters and M/EEO staff members. The purpose here would be to interface with the “centers of influence” within the minority community to elicit their assistance in our recruiting efforts.

I think that by developing an active recruitment strategy for women and minorities, we will not only attract these groups to our Special Programs, but may also in the long run increase their interest in competing via the examination route. We should take the initiative by letting people know what we do, and that we are seeking their talents and skills to accomplish our mission. The passive “hit or miss” approach used in the past will only continue to defeat our interest in developing an organization representative of the U.S. population.

I believe the following quote from the late Whitney Young, President of the Urban League, sums up what we’re trying to say:

“Today it is not enough for the businessman simply to take the FOR WHITE ONLY sign or drop this phrase from his want ads. . . . it is not sufficient to post the President’s executive order on equal employment outside the hiring office door. Even statements that the company will employ any qualified man may not be enough, nor will the sentence ‛equal opportunity employer’ in his ads be sufficient. It is not enough to do these things today, when you have established for generations in the mind of the Negro that your company is a place that doesn’t want him. You don’t erase that impression simply by taking down the signs. You can only erase this ingrained, experience-taught attitude by aggressively going to the community and saying: ‛We’ve changed,’ and by hiring some real human symbols who will go out and witness to the fact that [Page 911] you have changed. You don’t have to do this in the white community, but you do have to in the Negro community. And unless you make the effort, you will not have Negro applicants. After all, who wants to invite rejection?”

Whitney M. Young

Equal Opportunity Memorial Edition,September, 1971

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1978–1979, Box 6, Chron February 1–6, 1979. No classification marking.
  2. For Vance’s January 25 remarks before a national conference of black leaders, see the Department of State Bulletin, March 1979, pp. 42–43.
  3. See Document 194.
  4. Not found.