Is the Security Clearance Process Keeping Diverse Candidates from Fed Jobs? –

by | May 31, 2022 | Jobs

There are many paths to a national security career but virtually all of them entail the need to fill out some form of 100-plus page questionnaire for national security positions. Some involve the further step of a polygraph examination. And while the process is meant to be applied universally (with the same adjudicative guidelines around eligibility to access classified information), as anyone who has applied with multiple agencies knows, there are very human, and very distinct elements to obtaining a security clearance and making the cut as a national security worker.A recent Washington Post article highlighted the struggle within the intelligence community to attract and retain a diverse workforce. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has made diversity hiring and retention a priority. As the first woman to serve in the role, she’s advocated for better data and asking harder questions around what reforms can support the push for diversity. A 2020 GAO report on diversity within the intelligence community noted racial and ethnic minorities comprise about 37% of both the federal and civilian workforces, they only amount to about 26% of the intelligence community workforce. “From my optic, looking back the CIA has come a long way in the last 15 to 20 years in becoming more diverse,” said Christopher Burgess, who spent more than 30 years working for the CIA and is currently an author and speaker on security strategy. He noted two specific issues with diversity: promotion potential across disciplines, and recruiting professionals with the right cultural and linguistic proficiency – which benefits from immigrants who are likely to have extensi …

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