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DCI Statement on Diversity

February 1, 1999
Our country is home to gifted people of virtually every national origin, creed and culture. In our diversity there is tremendous strength. We must learn to recognize this diversity as the valuable asset that it is. If we fail to do so, we will waste an enormous amount of talent and resources. That is a waste which our country cannot afford and which I will not tolerate.

I regard our diversity as a powerful tool that can help us meet the intelligence challenges of the coming century. That is why I have made advancing diversity within our Agency and Community an important part of my Strategic Direction planning. I am determined to increase the diversity of our workforce and to using the many talents of the men and women who are already with us to optimum advantage.

The demographic trends are unmistakable. Projections indicate that over the next twenty years, women and people of color will constitute a growing majority of new entrants into the American labor market. The Millennium Generation, today's 15-to-25-year-olds, is the most racially mixed generation in our history.

Diversity is already an imperative for the business community. Corporate America was among the first to recognize that diversity pays dividends. CEOs know that organizations which value diversity — and know how to use it — will have the competitive edge, not only in recruiting and retaining the best employees, but in operating successfully worldwide.

Fortune 500 companies are out every day aggressively targeting women and minorities for recruitment. Their sophisticated recruiting ads prominently feature women, people with disabilities, and a range of races, ethnicities, and ages. The corporate slogans say it all. I will cite just a few: ''We view the world through many different lenses.'' (Kodak) ''Working together to change the world.'' (Raytheon). ''It only works if we work together.'' (Citibank) ''Equal Opportunity Empowerer.'' (First USA). The ads aren't merely slick public relations tools, they are genuinely representative of a corporate population that is more diverse than ever before and growing more so every day.

Our Intelligence Community is competing with the private sector for the best and the brightest of the rising generation. CIA is now engaged in the biggest recruiting drive since the establishment of our Agency and I have made it a priority to strengthen our recruitment capabilities.

But we simply will not be able to attract — and retain — the people we need unless we can show them that they have a rewarding future with us. Today's best and brightest know their worth, they are in high demand, and they are selective. We may not be able to match the monetary rewards of the corporate world, but we can offer patriotic Americans of all stripes something that the private sector cannot: a compelling mission of service to our country. Our case will be strongest, however, if we can show potential recruits that people who they can identify with and relate to are represented at all levels, that they are excited about their jobs, that they enjoy a good quality of life, and that they have a fair shot at the top positions - particularly mission-critical positions.

Not only do we need to do better bringing talented people in, we need to provide incentives for them to stay and build long-term careers here. If we don't, and talent walks out the door, all the time and money we spend on recruiting, and on background investigations and medical and polygraph examinations and specialized intelligence training once they arrive - tens of thousands of dollars every year — will be squandered. Minorities, women and people with disabilities still are underrepresented in the Agency's mid-level and senior officer positions.

Our Agency and our Community must do a better job of cultivating diverse talent. It is the right thing to do and it is the wise thing to do. The time to shape Workforce 2020 is now. To combat the threats our country will be facing in the decades ahead, we will need collectors from diverse ethnic backgrounds and with a wide range of expertise who can think and communicate like our targets and pierce their human and technical networks. We will also need analysts whose deep knowledge of other societies, cultures and languages can bring important perspectives to intelligence assessments, and help us red- team more effectively. And we will need technical specialists from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds, not only for collection and all-source analysis, but also to protect and sustain our critical information infrastructures.

Having a more diverse workforce will help us serve our customers better. The business community knows that in the future both its workforce and its customer bases will be much more diverse. The same applies to our intelligence community. The consumers of our intelligence products will come from more diverse backgrounds as American society continues to shift demographically. Our customers will have a wider variety of perspectives and they will demand intelligence products that take a wide range of views into account. We are often asked by policymakers whether we have considered all factors and options in arriving at our assessments or in planning operations. Having a diverse workforce can deepen our insights and widen our frames of reference. That said, it is not enough just to employ a diverse workforce. We must also ensure that those with different perspectives have a seat at the table and a meaningful voice in the discussion.

I challenge each and every one of you to join me in increasing and nurturing diversity within our Agency and Community. Each and every one of us - staff, contractors, detailees and students alike — can find ways to help make our offices vibrant places where diversity is welcome, where a variety of views is sought and heard, where equal opportunities for training and advancement are afforded, where people are valued for the content of their characters and rewarded for the quality of their work.

We need to do a better job of training our supervisors and managers to mentor and lead a diverse workforce and to marshal strengths across directorates and across the community. I regard diversity as a precious resource and I expect all supervisors and managers to do the same. The higher your rank, the more accountable you will be for ensuring that this Agency and Community are inclusive institutions, that everyone counts and contributes to the fullest, that differences are regarded as organizational assets rather than liabilities, and that every employee is treated with fairness and dignity.

In a commencement address at American University in 1963, President John F. Kennedy drew a connection between building peace with the Soviet Union and advancing civil rights at home. He said: ''So let us not be blind to our differences - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.''

Four decades later, as we — the most diverse country on Earth — engage a world that is growing ever more complex and interconnected, our very diversity will be one of the most powerful tools we have to help make the world a safer place.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:54 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:56 PM