President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum Wednesday, ordering national security agencies to promote diversity within their ranks.
For Obama, diversity appears to be a national security imperative, a common refrain among advocates of more diversity in the security industry.
There are several steps Obama wants national security agencies to take to institutionally prepare for an influx of diversity, Politico reports.
First, these agencies, spanning from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the Department of State, should improve the collection of data on diversity in the workforce. Second, agencies should provide more professional development opportunities for minorities. Third, there should be more “unconscious bias” training.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice has argued that diversity is incredibly important because it supposedly reduces “group think.” And it also makes use of the broad talent America has to offer.
But unfortunately for Rice, while minorities comprise 40 percent of the overall population, they are less than 15 percent of high-ranking military officers and intelligence officials.
The Obama administration has dedicated itself to changing those numbers since Obama was first elected.
That dedication has seen itself take effect in the Department of Defense, which one transgender Army officer recently described as social justice-friendly and much more progressive than the rest of the country.
In June, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter repealed the ban on transgenders serving openly in the military. In December, Carter opened all combat roles to women, with no exceptions allowed, despite protest from the Marine Corps. The services have also pushed numerous policy proposals to increase the number of minorities in their ranks.
Most recently, the Air Force released a set of 13 new initiatives for 2016 that build on previous progress in 2015. The goal of the initiatives is to make the service less white, male and heterosexual than it is currently.
One proposal in particular mandates that candidate pools for important developmental positions include at least one diverse candidate. A second proposal actually goes so far as to mandate diversity on selection boards.
“This is the way America is,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said. “America is a diverse population, and we don’t want to shut down pieces of the population from which we can recruit. We want the best we can possibly get from all sectors.”
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