Moving Forward as One USAID

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    Ven Suresh

    Office of Origin: AID/A
    Notice Category: Executive Message
    Date of Announcement: June 26, 2020
    Distribution: USAID/General Notice

    Moving Forward as One USAID

    Dear Colleagues,

    This has been a difficult couple of months for all of us. Through challenging times, it is important for us all to remember extra patience and kindness as we navigate unusual circumstances and situations. Since we are one team, all employees must be cognizant of the need to promote respect and dignity.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) continues to be the leading global voice and actor to combat discrimination and lend an enabling hand to advance global communities on their Journey to Self-Reliance. It is clear our mission is more critical than ever.

    As Americans, we enjoy the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — foundational elements of a prosperous democracy. Further, of our many freedoms, the right to express ourselves and gather peacefully are two essential ones we promote through our programming.

    I want to thank the many of you who have reached out to me, both personally and collectively, to voice your concerns and share your perspectives. Feedback is important to help us improve iteratively as a team as we endeavor to support our President and our Nation.

    I am gratified that over 77 different Bureaus and Independent Offices (B/IOs) and field Missions have scheduled listening sessions here at USAID; 51 sessions are completed, and the conversations have been rich and productive. Beyond the listening sessions, I am empowering the leadership of B/IOs and Missions to move full speed ahead with plans, efforts, and actions to ensure we continue to ensure our Agency celebrates all of our employees with fairness and equal treatment.

    Last week I joined our Executive Diversity Council (EDC), which former Administrator Mark Green reinvigorated, to take a look at where we are as an Agency. Made up of the Agency Counselor and leadership from every B/IO, and co-chaired by Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick and the Acting Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity (OCRD), Ismael Martínez, the Council is spearheading several efforts I want to share with you.

    The Council has led the effort to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan in consultation with the Agency’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and I was able to see a draft of the document at the meeting. I am impressed with the work and dedication of our ERGs, the input of many of you from across the Agency through focus groups, and the dialogue that has taken place with the leadership of B/IOs. After OCRD finalizes the Plan and the Deputy Administrator and I review it formally, I look forward to sharing it with you.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) just released an audit report that looked at our diversity and performance on promoting equal employment opportunity (EEO) from 2002 through 2018. USAID agrees with the GAO’s recommendations, and I am pleased we have made some real progress over the past two years that will help us implement them.

    USAID has zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination, and we are matching our commitment with action. In the last year alone, we have doubled the number of staff in OCRD, and increased its budget by more than sevenfold over the past two Fiscal Years (FY). This allowed the Office to introduce procedures to reduce and eliminate the backlog of EEO complaints. We can all be proud that in FY 2020, OCRD has been 100 percent on time in providing counseling to aggrieved individuals, completing EEO investigations, and issuing Final Agency Decisions, and has reduced the average number of days to complete final actions on complaints by 59 percent. The average number of days a complaint was under investigation in Fiscal Year 2019 was the lowest in five Fiscal Years. Despite this great progress, OCRD cannot do this work alone. I am calling on all USAID employees to foster dignity and respect across the Agency, and with our many global partners.

    To ensure we have the right policies in place, we are undertaking a full revision of the Chapters of our Automated Directives System that govern medical reasonable accommodations and requirements, as well as adding new Chapters on Anti-Harassment and Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct. We are initiating a robust, cross-Agency effort, led by OCRD, to analyze our workforce data, conduct analyses of barriers, and develop action plans to expand and ensure equal opportunity for all.

    Additionally, the Office of Human Capital and Talent Management (HCTM) is reviewing metrics related to hiring, promotions, assignments, and other personnel actions across demographics (including race, age, sex and ethnicity), and is creating an action plan to reduce barriers and monitor performance. HCTM is now expanding its efforts to reach out to candidates with non-traditional backgrounds, so people from under-represented populations and others who might not know USAID, or be aware of our career opportunities, can consider applying for our jobs.

    This is also where you come in. Diversifying our U.S. workforce is not just HCTM’s responsibility. Each of us is a recruiter for USAID, and we will not succeed in expanding our non-traditional hiring unless all of us pitch in. Please talk to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, classmates, and fellow congregants about the Agency. Send job announcements through your professional and alumni networks. Work with the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs to do outreach when you return to your home towns. Tell people who we are and what we do, and ask them to apply.

    I know there is strength in our diversity, and I am committed to an inclusive USAID that values all members of our team so everyone can contribute equally to our success. Our Foreign Service National cadre around the world is incredibly diverse, and I am continuing to pursue opportunities to empower them and increase their opportunities for professional development. Meanwhile, the latest figures from OCRD and HCTM are that our U.S. Direct-Hire staff is 37 percent non-white, and 54 percent female. We have made progress, but we can all agree we have more to do. My commitment to you is that as an Agency we will continue to improve the diversity in our workforce and leadership.

    We know the world is not always the way it should be, or can be, and that is why this Agency exists. We must continue to reach out and work with all in manners that promote respect and dignity here in the United State and overseas.


    John Barsa

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