National Security Profs Argue That Intelligence Community Needs Fewer Whites And Males

Jonah Bennett | Contributor

National security professors at Defense One published an op-ed Monday arguing that the intelligence community needs more diversity, fewer whites and fewer males.

Drs. Damien Van Puyvelde and Stephen Coulthart, the authors of the piece, bemoan the “bad news” that the U.S. intelligence community is “still largely white and male,” news which comes from the human capital strategic plan published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The ODNI report analyzed all employees from 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, finding that whites comprised 76.6 percent of the community and males clocked in at 61.1 percent. As far as Puyvelde and Coulthart are concerned, this is problematic because whites and males are overrepresented relative to overall demographics. For example, whites only make up 65.1 percent of the general population and males are only 49.3 percent.

Yet, most minorities are barely underrepresented in the intelligence community, with the exception of Hispanics. According to the report, while Hispanics made up 16.4 percent of the population, they only comprised 5.2 percent of the intelligence workforce in 2011.

For Puyvelde and Couthart, overrepresentation of whites and underrepresentation of minorities is a problem in desperate need of a solution, though the two noted that ODNI plans major recruitment efforts to make “a diverse, highly-skilled intelligence workforce that reflects the strength of America.”

The drive to bring in more Hispanics is beset with several difficulties. First, many have financial difficulties and so they fall behind in their studies because they have to work outside of the classroom. Second, many are recent immigrants and so have family across the Mexican border. This results in a delayed security clearance process because of concerns over connections to cartels and smugglers.

“If senior government officials are serious about improving the diversity of the intelligence community’s workforce – and they should be – they must more proactively manage diversity, along with its perceived risks,” the professors write.

One way to boost Hispanic recruitment is to overhaul the background investigative process and to take into account the “personal histories” of minorities, so as to explain away their poor academic achievement.

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