Intelligence After Next: Diversity and Inclusion – A Mission Imperative for the Intelligence Community

January 2021
Topics: Intelligence After Next, Intelligence Analysis, Human Resources Management, Organizational Development, Organizational Behavior, Leadership
Tiffany Dao, The MITRE Corporation
Jenine Patterson, The MITRE Corporation
Phil Roberts, The MITRE Corporation
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The U.S. faces a future in which domestic and global demographics will rapidly shift and starkly contrast the current demographics. To remain effective in producing high quality intelligence, the Intelligence Community (IC) must comprehensively understand and correctly assess the dynamic environment in which the U.S. operates. This requires building and leveraging teams comprised of experts from socially and culturally diverse backgrounds to maximize analytic value. 

Yet, despite a variety of diversity and inclusion initiatives, IC workforce diversity changes have been modest. Women, minorities, and people with disabilities remain underrepresented throughout the workforce, with the most extreme disparities in leadership positions. By sustaining a workforce that is disproportionately white and male, the IC misses important mission benefits derived from diversity, as data consistently show that organizations with diverse staff and leadership outperform their more homogeneous counterparts. The IC’s ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts will be most successful when they are widely accepted and understood as mission essential and the IC workforce itself is both driving the demand and shaping strategies for more diversity and inclusion.

Given changing domestic demographics, it will become increasingly difficult to build and maintain a healthy long-term IC workforce without building a lasting culture of diversity and inclusion. The IC can accelerate its efforts by: 

  • Building recognition among IC staff that diversity and inclusion are essential to producing high-quality intelligence. If cultural blind spots and implicit biases are treated as natural, albeit dangerous, occurrences and are openly addressed, diversity and inclusion efforts can be seen as helpful enhancements to team effectiveness. Diversity and inclusion efforts must be recognized by the entire IC workforce as authentic and necessary, rather than abstract hiring mandates.  
  • Sustaining and expanding programs that increase voluntary engagement aimed at achieving mission success through diversity and inclusion; promote intergroup contacts; and promote leadership engagement and accountability.  
  • Expanding the collection of diversity and inclusion metrics to include more detailed data, such as diversity by mission area, disaggregation of gender data by race, and cultural competencies. 
  • Developing new strategies based on this data, detailed barrier and implementation analyses, and recently released research on effective methods for achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Discover more research from MITRE’s Center for Technology & National Security.

 

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