CIA unveils ‘roadmap’ for workforce diversity

The CIA this week released its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, a three-point, three-year effort that officials said takes advantage of a “unique opportunity to weave diversity and inclusion deep into the fabric of our agency.”

The  Diversity and Inclusion Strategy comes at a time when the agency is also working to stand up its Talent Center of Excellence and putting its modernization efforts into practice.

CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement that diversity is important because in order to have “excellence in foreign intelligence” there must also be broad perspectives within the CIA.

“Broad perspectives come from diversity in thought, ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences,” Brennan said in a statement. “Embracing and leveraging diversity through an inclusive culture fosters innovation, new ideas and new insights which is at the heart of what we are charged to do and is what will drive mission success.”

The strategy focuses on three main points:

  • Weaving diversity and inclusion throughout the talent cycle
  • Becoming an employer of choice
  • Increasing diversity of leadership

Weaving diversity, according to the strategy, means focusing on “consistent diversity and inclusion messages and standards in our learning curriculum.”

Among the key actions of this focal point is developing a diversity framework, examining leadership development programs and hosting corporate-wide training and a speaker series.

To measure progress, officials will look at the diversity and gender breakdown of leadership offices as well as annual promotion trends.

“We also will be more deliberate and intentional in the development of our officers through enhanced personnel practices and talent reviews,” the strategy states.

The second focal point, becoming an employer of choice, involves the CIA launching a multi-year plan to increase the hiring and retention of people with disabilities.

The CIA will also look at ways to diversify its student programs “in alignment with the agency’s longer-term goal of 30 percent minority representation.”

Diversity and gender breakdown will be considered when looking at recruiting and resignation trends, the strategy states.

To increase the diversity of agency leadership, guidance and training will be established for Senior Intelligence Service officers.

Annual diversity reports will be released, the strategy stated, and a Manager’s Toolkit will also be developed to aid leadership in “fostering an inclusive workplace.”

“Leaders will be expected to serve as role models for fostering an inclusive workplace and showcasing the positive impact diversity has on our mission,” the strategy states. “Through new training and learning opportunities, we will better equip leaders, managers and supervisors to develop every officers’ potential, and provide guidance on their role in preparing a diverse bench of officers for future leadership roles.”

The strategy, according to the CIA, is based on the Director’s Advisory Group on Women in Leadership and the Diversity in Leadership Study.

CIA’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Maja Lehnus said the strategy requires transparency and accountability on the part of all agency employees and leaders.

“At CIA, we bring the best of who we are to protect our national interests. To uphold this extraordinary responsibility, we must ensure that we maintain a diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible workplace where all voices are heard, respected and valued,” Lehnus said. “Our critical national security mission necessitates that we embrace all perspectives, honor our differences, and ensure all officers have the opportunities and tools to contribute to their full potential.”

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