OBO announces bureau-specific diversity and inclusion strategy

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Affairs’ (OBO) Diversity and Inclusion virtual discussion featured OBO Director Addison
The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Affairs’ (OBO) Diversity and Inclusion virtual discussion featured OBO Director Addison "Tad" Davis IV, OBO Principal Deputy Director Henry Jardine, Deputy Assistant Secretary Mirembe Nantongo from the Bureau of Global Talent Management, and President of the National Organization of Minority Architects from the architecture firm HOK Kimberly Dowdell. Photo courtesy of OBO

By Christine Foushee

In line with the Department of State’s commitment to developing a cohesive Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Strategic Plan, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) released a bureau-specific plan in May. The plan is part of the bureau’s overall talent management strategic priority, and includes their strategy for a diverse and inclusive workforce. A virtual event marked the announcement of this strategy and featured a discussion with Deputy Assistant Secretary Mirembe Nantongo from the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM), President of the National Organization of Minority Architects Kim Dowdell from the architecture firm HOK, and OBO Director Addison “Tad” Davis IV. 

“Creating a diverse and inclusive culture is our path to future success,” said Davis.  “Diverse voices increase innovation, provide a competitive advantage in recruitment and retention, and most importantly, reflect the people of this great nation that we pledge to serve.”

OBO’s D&I strategy centers on creating a positive, open environment that encourages the full participation of all employees. It also facilitates accountability for everyone to respect and value differences. As part of the strategy, OBO is developing a number of bureau-wide initiatives that will complement and advance the Department’s vision and goals. Additionally, the establishment of the OBO D&I Council, chaired by OBO’s Principal Deputy Director Henry Jardine, will ensure a focus on people, culture, and mission.

Following the plan’s announcement, the OBO D&I group is hard at work developing ways to promote accountability for the entire organization, develop and expand education and training for both staff and leadership, share best practices, and align with professional industry organizations and universities that are committed to diversity and inclusion. The OBO team looks forward to collaborating with other bureaus and GTM as they move forward.  

While many individuals in OBO are already living the values of diversity and inclusion, this strategy and subsequent action plan will define and amplify those efforts and set the initiative as priority to ensure a government that truly is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” 

Christine Foushee is director of external affairs in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations.