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The Diversity Strategy – “Diverse Germany, diverse diplomacy!”

Front page of the Diversity Strategy

The Diversity Strategy – “Diverse Germany, diverse diplomacy!”, © Auswärtiges Amt

06.12.2021 - Article

For a long time, German diplomacy was the reserve of a group of men who were well situated in society. Today, it aspires to reflect German society in all its diversity. A new Diversity Strategy has been adopted for this purpose and seeks to highlight visibility, appreciation and equal opportunity.

black and white picture: men in suits on long tables
Christmas party 1928 at the Foreign Office© Politisches Archiv, Auswärtiges Amt
Hermann Müller’s term of office as Reich Foreign Minister lasted a mere nine months and ended over one hundred years ago, on 26 March 1920. But this short tenure was enough for him to initiate something at the Foreign Office that, today, we would call “diversity management”: in a 1919 policy speech to the German National Assembly in Weimar, he called for new recruits to the foreign service to be drawn from all strata of society. He was reacting to the fact that diplomats – at the time exclusively male – all came from a small, wealthy and homogenous section of society – meaning they held more or less the same social and foreign policy views.

Today – more than one hundred years later – the Federal Foreign Office looks entirely different: half of its staff are women, approximately one-seventh come from migrant backgrounds, some 300 staff members have a severe disability, and many live in a civil partnership or same-sex marriage. Nearly half of the staff are locally employed at Germany’s missions abroad. Only 20% of these are German citizens – so a large majority of local staff belong to a variety of cultures, ethnic groups and religions.

This makes equal opportunity and diversity high-profile issues at the Federal Foreign Office – during the recruitment process and career development, as well as in everyday work. To publicise its commitment to these topics, the Federal Foreign Office has drawn up a Diversity Strategy that lists the objectives and measures through which it makes diversity and equal opportunity part of its everyday operations.

men and women standing in front of a beautiful building
The group of staff currently undergoing higher intermediate Foreign Service training© Auswärtiges Amt

Just like the Diversity Charter, which it signed in 2014, the Federal Foreign Office defines “diversity” to mean the commonalities and differences of staff members, based on their individual personalities and lifestyles or life plans. The Federal Foreign Office views diversity as including the dimensions of age, disability, ethnic origin and nationality, gender, religion and ideology, sexual orientation and identity, as well as social background. With its Diversity Strategy, the Federal Foreign Office is pursuing a comprehensive approach that includes all of the dimensions of diversity in equal measure.

In implementing the Strategy, the Federal Foreign Office relies on the expertise and the support of the Gender Equality Representative, the Spokesperson for Severely Disabled Persons and the Staff Council, as well as on various staff initiatives at the Federal Foreign Office, such as Rainbow, the informal association of LGBTIQ staff; Diplomats of Color, which draws attention to the issues faced by people who have experienced racism and discrimination; frauen@diplo, which campaigns for equality at both the Federal Foreign Office and in Germany’s foreign policy; and Eibolk, an association of parents with children in need of particular support.

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