CIA Director Emphasizes Leadership Diversity as a Way to Help Intelligence Efforts

CIA Director John Brennan issued a statement on June 30, 2015 to describe his efforts to improve diversity in the senior leadership of the agency. Brennan pointed out that “excellence in foreign intelligence demands broad perspectives” and that diversity of backgrounds, experiences, thought, and ethnicities is essential to the success of the CIA’s mission.

He said that he has discussed the issues with several former CIA Directors and that each believes very strongly that diversity and inclusion are important to the CIA’s success in global intelligence.

Brennan commissioned the comprehensive Diversity in Leadership Study (DLS) in January 2014 to examine this issue. He used a group of outside experts led by respected civil rights expert Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. who is also a member of the CIA’s External Advisory Board. These experts gathered data from thousands of CIA officers, reviewed the scholarly literature, and worked with Agency officers representing all levels of the CIA and all Directorates.

The DLS found that the CIA must do more to develop an inclusive and diverse leadership environment. Specifically it concluded that the CIA does not:

  • Hold itself accountable for maintaining an inclusive and diverse workplace
  • Sufficiently prioritize the development of its officers
  • Consistently promote an inclusive culture

In response to these findings, Brennan ordered immediate actions at the highest levels of the CIA. By October 1, a formal performance objective for Senior Intelligence Service Officers will require them to be evaluated on their actions to create and sustain an inclusive and diverse environment. Also, every officer on the senior leadership team will attend inclusion and diversity training within the next year.

In February, Brennan appointed a senior CIA official with experience leading change who has created a team and is creating an implementation strategy. Intelligence experts agree that making the CIA more inclusive will strengthen its key mission of analyzing what is going on in a dangerous world.