By Star Hy
When U.S. Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Ambassador Eric Nelson laid the foundation for a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (DIWG) at post in 2020, there was an overwhelmingly positive response. A group of 22 U.S. direct-hire and locally employed staff representatives from nearly every section and agency in the Mission stepped up to serve.
Seizing on the enthusiasm of a group dedicated to making a difference in this ethnically diverse country, the DIWG developed a series of documents—including a mission statement, goals, principles, and a diversity and inclusion pledge. To assess their baseline, the DIWG designed and launched a Mission-wide diversity and inclusion climate survey, revealing a strong desire to provide realistic input and solutions for the community’s critical issues.
The DIWG developed a roadmap of objectives to strengthen diversity both externally and internally based on the positive survey feedback. To date, the DIWG has already tackled several of these objectives: amplification of diversity and inclusion through social media, broadening recruitment efforts to reach a more diverse pool of applicants, establishment of a diversity library and book club, promotion of heritage months highlighting members of the community, and hosting a speaker on “Becoming an Inclusive Republic.”
As part of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the Balkans Regional Diversity and Inclusion Councils, the DIWG hosted a presentation by a Mission BiH staff member titled, “My Perspective as a Bosnian War Refugee,” Nov. 17, 2020. The DIWG launched future initiatives such as a sponsorship and mentorship program, cultural awareness training, events for speakers from underrepresented groups to share their stories at American Corners, and an award to recognize staff efforts related to diversity and inclusion.
“We are immensely proud of the success and energy of our working group,” said Nelson. “They are leading our efforts to model diversity and foster inclusion in all aspects of our work in BiH.”
Star Hy is an assistant regional security officer at Embassy Sarajevo.