January 29, 2022

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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Diplomacy: A Conversation with Security Engineering Officer Rahim Theriot

14 min read

Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Barbara Gleason, DSS Public Affairs

Washington, DC

Security Engineering Officer (SEO) Rahim Theriot is director of the DSS Security Engineering Countermeasures Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Training Directorate. While his current assignment is focused on providing technical security countermeasures training, in his years with DSS, Theriot has applied his skills as a diplomat and an electrical engineer in challenging assignments overseas.

Why is diversity and inclusion important to the U.S. Department of State, specifically the Diplomatic Security Service—and, in fact, any organization? 

Our mission is diverse—and it needs to represent all of us.  We want to make sure that the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and, in fact, the entire State Department, is inclusive and maintains that diversity.  It is our strength.

During my assignment in Cairo, Egypt, I witnessed a strong presence of diversity.  While it was a large mission similar to my later assignment in China, it was a little more representative of America.  When I moved to China, I saw a difference in that mission.  It could be attributed to the language barrier, although I’m not sure why.  My first year there, I decided to find out what the mission planned to do to commemorate Black History Month.  I discovered—nothing.  We then took it upon ourselves to do something.  It started with a small group of people my first year there and we showcased a couple of movies and documentaries. By the second year, we organized an entire week of festivities like “Wear your best African dress” and a “Jeopardy” tournament with African American-themed categories. The mission loved the events, and the ambassador even participated in some of the events.

Once I did that, I understood that in our roles as leaders, we have to create the experience and environment we desire.  When I returned to the United States and began my assignment at the DSS Training Directorate, I learned about the DSS Council for Diversity and Inclusion and decided to get involved.  My goals are to help ensure that DSS becomes more representative of America and to strengthen the organization.

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