CIA promises better diversity

WASHINGTON - CIA Director John Brennan announced a series of measures Tuesday to improve diversity at the upper echelons of the spy agency, currently occupied by a disproportionate majority of whites.

An experts report ordered by Brennan and published Tuesday by the Central Intelligence Agency found that ethnic and racial minorities account for just 10.8 per cent of the Senior Intelligence Service.

Minorities account for 23.9 per cent of per cent of CIA personnel overall, and are underrepresented in the agency's most prestigious services, such as analysis, operations and technical intelligence.

In comparison, the US Census Bureau found that whites account for 62.6 per cent of the total population in the United States last year.

"Given our global mission, no government agency stands to benefit more from diversity and inclusion than does CIA," Brennan said in a statement.

But the situation could worsen, the report warned, nothing that the percentage of minorities hired since 2007 has "declined to levels lower than what is necessary to sustain the level of minority representation in the current workforce."

In 2014, only 19.3 per cent of new hires were minorities, compared to a peak of 31.5 per cent in 2008.

Women also face inequality.

While there are more and more white women serving at the top of the CIA (30 per cent in 2014), minority women are still underrepresented.

The report also pointed to a "lack of inclusive culture," finding that twice more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers feel they need to hide aspects of their identity to be successful at the CIA than their straight partners.

"In practice, the agency does not recognise the value of diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, nor consistently promote an inclusive, 'speak-up' culture where all opinions are heard, valued and taken into account," the report said.

"Some officers disengage because when they share their thoughts and perspectives on mission or workforce issues, they are not considered."

Brennan announced several corrective measures, including requiring senior leaders to attend diversity and inclusion training, and evaluating them based on their actions to "create, maintain, and sustain a diverse and inclusive environment."

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