Q : In a letter addressed to upper management and State leaders, Prime Minister Jean Castex explains that the reform of ENA and the senior civil service “will also involve the diplomatic corps, which must be ‘open to the rest of the State and diversified.’” Do you think the diplomatic profession can accommodate this kind of “streamlining”?
A : At the Minister’s request, in the middle of last year the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs began looking at ways to promote diplomatic and consular careers and to update human resources management, in full coordination with the civil service reform launched by the President.
The Ministry is open, and so is its upper management. Fifteen percent of upper management positions are held by non-Ministry employees, and the Ministry is largely open to contractors, who hold 55% of its positions.
The Ministry is strongly committed to parity and diversity, values that it pursues internationally and which guide its hiring. The paths available to join the Ministry actively contribute to these goals, as the Thiriez Report fully acknowledged. For example, the Category A examinations held by the Ministry have brought the percentage of women hired to more than 40% since 2016, while the proportion of women appointed to the Quai d’Orsay out of ENA was 25% for that same period. The Ministry is committed to creating a “talent” pipeline, such as the entry exam for ENA/INSP, but with the “Orient” examination, it already has a method of hiring that benefits excellent students with specialized linguistic and cultural skills. The Ministry has also hired nearly 100 non-graduates under the “PACTE” system since 2006.
The careers of Ministry employees reflect the need for operational experience; two-thirds of our employees are on the ground abroad.
The decision to serve one’s country abroad is part of this demanding profession. It also means choosing a lifestyle that comes with a certain number of hardships, including those imposed on families. The commitment of our colleagues who represent France, whether in New Delhi or Brasilia, Baghdad or Kabul, who are separated from their loved ones for months on end due to the travel limits imposed by the pandemic and exposed to a health situation that is especially concerning, is one example of this.