The intelligence community is becoming more diverse – but there’s still work to be done. That’s the key takeaway from a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The annual demographic report offers insight into the current makeup of the IC, as well as areas requiring attention.
Diversity in the Intelligence Community by the Numbers
The study examined the participation of women, minorities, people with disabilities (PWD), and people with targeted disabilities (PWTD) in all agencies of America’s intelligence apparatus. These were some general findings:
- 2018 saw the first increase of women participation in the IC workforce in four years – albeit a small one. It jumped from 38.5% in 2017 to 38.8% in 2018.
- Minority representation in the IC workforce increased from 25.5% to 26.2%.
- Women made up 37.3% of managers and supervisors, a 1% increase from the previous year.
- Of all promotions in the IC, minorities accounted for 26.1%, an increase from 23.9% in 2017.
- The representation of people with disabilities went up 1.2%.
Though these numbers are promising, the report still found room for improvement. Minorities, women, and PWD are not as prevalent in higher pay grades (from GS/GG-13 to senior pay levels). Rates of attrition for minority and PWD increased since last year, showing that though the IC may be hiring a more diverse workforce, it is having some trouble retaining them.
What’s more, IC employees with targeted disabilities decreased from 2.1% in 2017 to 1.6% in 2018. Targeted disabilities are those which are specifically listed on SF-256 – such as traumatic brain injury, blindness, mobility issues, or certain psychiatric conditions. Job candidates and employees with targeted disabilities are afforded particular protections in the workplace and the hiring process.
making intelligence more diverse
The report also noted many efforts – from each agency to the IC at large – geared towards recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. Collectively, the IC participated in events like the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Annual Conference, the Korean-American Scientists and Engineering Association Ygnite 2018 Conference, and the 54th Biennial National Association of the Deaf Conference.
The IC is also promoting Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – voluntary affinity groups led by employees that supplement their agency’s mission and foster community within the organization. As the report notes, “ERGs promote learning and awareness within the whole workforce, support outreach and recruitment initiatives, and give exposure to unique cohort concerns. They provide opportunities to highlight the talents and contributions of all employees, which in turn increases morale and maximizes retention and productivity.”
The report called out the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO) Federal Women’s Program and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents Flexibilities team as stellar examples of ERGs that support and foster diversity in the IC.
In addition, the NSA, CIA, NGA, and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) all participate in the Louis Stokes Educational Scholarship Program, which awards exceptional high school, undergraduate, or graduate students with tuition assistance, summer internships, and work after graduation in the intelligence field. In 2018, 73.2% of Stokes students employed by the IC were minorities; 39.3% were women.