Obama Orders National Security Workforce to Address ‘Intersectionality’

Mandates ‘unconscious bias’ training for FBI, CIA, NSA, DoD, and officials in charge of approving security clearances

Barack Obama
October 5, 2016

President Obama is ordering all national security agencies to expand the use of "unconscious bias" training and address "intersectionality" in a late push for diversity and inclusion in the federal government.

The president issued a memorandum on Wednesday entitled "Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce." The memo requires all 17 intelligence agencies, including the Pentagon, State Department, and Department of Homeland Security, to report back in four months on their progress in collecting information about diversity in their workforces, such as employees’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

Obama listed "diversity" as "our greatest asset" in keeping America safe.

"Our greatest asset in protecting the homeland and advancing our interests abroad is the talent and diversity of our national security workforce," Obama said in the seven-page memo. "Under my administration, we have made important progress toward harnessing the extraordinary range of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, skills, and experiences of the U.S. population toward keeping our country safe and strong."

The memo outlines several requirements for the security agencies, including an order to expand "unconscious bias" and "inclusion" training. Unconscious bias training rests on the theory that "everyone is a little bit racist or sexist."

Intelligence agencies have already begun to use the training. Last year the intelligence community brought in a Google executive for a seminar on unconscious bias. The Justice Department is also training more than 33,000 federal agents on "implicit bias."

President Obama is now making unconscious bias training mandatory for senior leadership positions at the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Defense Department, as well as for officials in charge of approving security clearances.

"Agencies shall expand their provision of training on implicit or unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies and make implicit or unconscious bias training mandatory for senior leadership and management positions, as well as for those responsible for outreach, recruitment, hiring, career development, promotion, and security clearance adjudication," the memo reads.

The training can be phased in, and priority will be given to divisions that rank low on the New Inclusion Quotient, or "New IQ," average. The New IQ is calculated by asking employees about the "5 Habits of Inclusion" to see if their work environment is "supportive" and "empowering."

The unconscious bias training will be used to address "intersectionality."

"Agencies should give special attention to ensuring the continuous incorporation of research-based best practices, including those to address the intersectionality between certain demographics and job positions," according to the memo.

Intelligence agencies are also required to "reward and recognize efforts to promote diversity and inclusion."

"They are also encouraged to create opportunities for senior leadership and supervisors to participate in outreach events and to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion with the workforce on a regular basis, including with employee resource groups," according to the memo.

Political correctness has been blamed for intelligence failures in the past. The FBI interviewed Omar Mateen, the terrorist who murdered 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, two times after he made pro-terrorist comments to coworkers, but dropped both investigations. Mateen told the FBI he was the victim of religious discrimination from coworkers because he was Muslim.

The administration is also requiring agencies to collect more information on employees, including voluntary disclosures on sexual orientation and gender identity. The memo orders the agencies to "identify additional categories" of information to collect on current workers so they can meet diversity goals.

"Further, agencies may also collect additional demographic data, such as information regarding sexual orientation or gender identity," the memo said.

In addition to top security agencies, the memo applies to the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection, and the Justice Department’s FBI and National Security Division.

The guidance will affect over 3 million people who make up the national security workforce. The agencies must report on their progress in 120 days.

Published under: Diversity , Intelligence