The Power of Diversity and Inclusion
At CIA, we are committed to fostering a community that is diverse, fair, and accessible, and we are always seeking new relationships that will assist us in achieving our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals.
Recently, we partnered with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW) to sponsor their “NCBW Power Up! Excellence Leads to Change” 20th Biennial Conference in Orlando, FL. NCBW is a 40-year-old advocacy organization built to empower African American women through greater access to education, political strength, business opportunities, and civic responsibility.
NCBW hosted leaders from across the public and private sectors to speak on a variety of topics including mentorship, economic empowerment, and public policy. Our Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent for Diversity and Inclusion (DADT/DI) Sonya Holt served as the keynote speaker for “The Power of Diversity and Inclusion” luncheon at the conference. She shared innovative ways the Agency is shaping diversity and inclusion programs that are particularly rewarding for underrepresented segments of our population, specifically women of color. Through self-diagnostics, the Agency has identified internal and external barriers to minorities succeeding at CIA and increased partnerships with minority-led non-profit organizations such as NCBW and HBCUs to create a better path forward.
“CIA has been in existence for several decades, and over these years we have implemented several initiatives to enhance the diversity amongst our workforce. In full transparency, this has not been easy, but we are constantly seeking ways to better connect with communities of interest, and our relationship with your organization will help us in this effort,” said DADT/DI Holt. “We realize that hiring more women of color at CIA will bring new and creative ways of solving some of the most complex problems.”
CIA’s national security mission demands input from a broad range of perspectives, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences. We’ve seen how an inclusive culture fosters new ideas, inspires innovation, and leads to success. Our mission depends on it.
Learn more about the Agency’s DEI initiatives, in our Diversity and Inclusion section.
Hi Sonya. How are you? Good to see you. Thank you for taking time to sit down with us.
So what do you think about the conference now? You know you spent a couple of hours talking to some of the members you made some great remarks. You’re familiar with what the organization is doing, and now you have a partnership with NCBW. Want to talk about that a little bit?
Sure. So you know having the opportunity to engage with some members really just gave me insight to the passion they have about this organization but, more importantly, the passion to see women exceed and excel. And so for me I told one of the individuals that are sitting next to, I said, this is giving me just that “umph” because sometimes working in this space can be challenging but to see so many women, so many strong women, intelligent women, made me say: okay, you know what I can go and do this work a little bit longer because of the excitement and all of the great work that they’re doing.
So Sonya, what you’re telling me is you’re powered up now?
Absolutely! I’m not going to dance but I’m powered up!
You know I was waiting for you to dance when the music came on. Let’s talk about diversity and recruiting process of the CIA and what you’re doing in collaboration with NCBW, and how NCBW can help you with that collaboration.
So we’re hoping that with the relationship that we have with NCBW is that it will allow us an opportunity to expand our outreach. So I think the more people that know who we are, what we do, when it is that we’re looking for as far as talent, the more voices and advocates that we have.
Those partnerships and relationships can get us in front of talent and that certainly, based on the conversations today, I’ve seen a lot of great talent here that I think we can also take advantage of. And the fact that NCBW advocates on behalf of black women and girls, how is your pursuit of diversity and recruitment pertain to that segment, in particular?
So for us, when we take a look at the demographics of women, for example, at CIA. As you’ve heard me say, I am one a few African American women in the senior ranks. For me it’s really important to make sure that we have other individuals who look like me can see themselves in the organization whether it’s in my role or in any role in the organization. So I just think that young women whether you’re grade school, high school, college can dream big and can see that they can work in an agency such as CIA.
A lot of people don’t know who we are. You don’t know about the opportunities that we offer, but I know that there are some bright, talented talent out there. I just want to see the organization just expand into bringing in some of the best, and I think this organization has access to that and also members who are that.
Great one last question, and yes, you bring up a great point about people knowing more about the CIA, and so you you’re happy with the strategy you have in place in recruiting and the recruiting process?
Absolutely so a lot of this is new. This is the 2020-2023 strategy. So every year, we would kind of do an assessment. I mean we don’t wait to the end of the year to take a look to see how well we’re doing and how well we aren’t.
COVID has had a huge impact on how we recruit this past year, but it also gives us the opportunity to readjust, reengage, and to continue to research and see what other things out there that we haven’t done or we haven’t considered.
I’m excited about the direction that we’re heading. I’m excited about all the different options that we have in front of us. So I hope that tomorrow that we have more individuals who look like myself and other minority officers or individuals in our pipeline.
Oh and just another point, I’m seasoned, so I’m looking for communications position. So is there an opportunity for me?
I’m sure that we have vast opportunities. We’ve got folks who are at our table here at the conference who can certainly talk to you about what those opportunities look like. I hope to see you there.
Okay, that sounds good.