Perhaps it comes as no surprise that a newly released report places the minority workforce in the CIA in a clear disadvantage, with only 10.8 percent of senior leadership pertaining to minority groups.
The report, speared by Vernon Jordan, former top adviser during the Clinton administration and leading African-American attorney, was presented by the Director of the CIA John Brennan.
Brennan took the findings quite seriously and seemed to be drawing clear guidelines for a well-needed change during presentation conference that included both hard data from the report, as well as recommendations on changing the status-quo.
One of the major drawbacks, according to Brennan, was that not diversifying the workforce in the leadership positions did not allow the agency to optimize its capabilities when it was perhaps most crucial.
The Diversity in Leadership Study was conducted over a one-year timeframe, spanning 28 focus groups and as much as 200 interviews with the senior leaders of the CIA, as well as a survey. The survey targeted 41.5 percent of the agency’s workforce and included a wide array of questions as to the barriers that they meet in their path to advancement.
The overall numbers are crystal clear. Minority personnel makes up 23.9 percent of the agency’s workforce. However, the top level positions in the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service are only 10.8 percent occupied by minority representatives.
“The fact is there has been little progress over the past several decades in diversifying the leadership cadre and pipeline and in sustaining the hiring of diverse officers”,
reads one of the conclusions of the Diversity in Leadership Study.
Another finding of the Diversity in Leadership Study indicates that since 2008, the recruitment numbers show a clear decline in minority workforce.
Another strong criticism in the report stated:
“The agency does not recognize the value of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, nor consistently promote an inclusive speak-up culture where all opinion are heard, valued and taken into account”.
Against this background, Director Brennan vouched commitment to changing the status-quo inclusively. In his view, the minority representation in the Senior Intelligence Service should increase to a minimum of 30 percent.
Brennan also stated that such a measure is an absolute must in order to avoid shortsighted group-thinking. Currently, the CIA’s top level positions are in the majority occupied by white male career officers, albeit one conclusion in the study which suggests minority CIA employees are more aspirational of the top level position in the agency than their non-minority peers.
Connected to this issue, the Diversity in Leadership Study found that within the CIA promoting talent internally is a thorny situation. Anonymous accounts pointed that in a strong paranoid work-culture, concerns over where the people come from and their alleged loyalty takes precedence over their talent.
Nonetheless, CIA Director John Brennan is set on making a change that matters for the agency. Recently, CIA established the Training Center for Excellence, which should work for the purpose of increasing minority numbers in the process of recruiting.
Another measure that should help the agency promote minority talent more consistently is the integration of both operations as well as analysis divisions in the CIA’s mission centers.
Another point brought up by Director Brennan was that the CIA was looking to hire an increased number of Arab-Americans whose expertise is crucial in some of the problems the agency is faced with.
Also, it was reported that the agency would increase its efforts to promote and attract an increasing number of minority candidates directly from college.
Director Brennan stated that these are a few recommendations that would bring about change respective to the number of minority employees in the agency, regardless whether it is low or top level positions.
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