The State Department is restarting employee training programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, ending a months-long pause instituted under former President Donald Trump.
“Restoring and strengthening American diplomatic leadership globally requires leveraging the full talent and richness of American diversity,” Ned Price, the new State Department spokesman, said in a statement announcing the move on Friday afternoon.
“To achieve a diplomatic corps truly representative of America, more progress is needed to recruit and retain a more diverse department workforce and embrace a culture of inclusion and accountability, free of bias.”
Price is the first openly gay person to serve as State Department spokesperson, one of the most important faces of American diplomacy.
On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he rescinded an executive order that Trump signed in September 2020 that limited discussions of racism, sexism and other structural disadvantages at federal agencies.
Trump’s order led the State Department to pause diversity and inclusion training in October so that the White House could review its materials. The agency only confirmed its action after Reuters reported on it.
America’s diplomatic service has spent decades talking to international audiences about the country’s diversity ― engaging in complicated conversations about matters like why Black Americans disproportionately face violence from law enforcement ― while internally struggling to recruit and promote people of color and other minorities.
Under Trump, the State Department also saw a dramatic decline in morale and the departure of many prominent high-ranking civil servants and up-and-coming diplomats. The agency’s evolution under Biden, likely under his Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken, will be closely watched abroad and could improve its reputation among Americans at home.
“After years of talking about swagger” ― a favorite term of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ― “it is a welcome sign to Americans across the country and our friends, allies, partners, and publics around the globe that American diplomacy now says ‘out of many, we are one,’” said Lucas Schleusener, a former Pentagon official who is the president of Out in National Security, a nonprofit association of LGBTQIA+ national security professionals.
Biden has selected the most racially diverse cabinet in history. His cabinet also includes more women than that of any former president.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.