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Cardin Introduces Bill to Improve Diversity in U.S. National Security Workforce

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to strengthen employee diversity in the U.S. national security workforce through enhanced hiring, retention, and growth practices.

The National Security Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Act of 2017 would codify and build upon President Obama’s presidential memorandum for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce and Executive Order 13583.  The 2015 National Security Strategy recognized diversity of the U.S. national security workforce as a strategic asset that enhances our ability to lead on the global stage.

Joining Senator Cardin as original cosponsors of the legislation are U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

“America’s diversity is one of our greatest assets as a nation, and our national security agencies should reflect that reality,” Senator Cardin said. “Unfortunately, as it stands today these agencies are less diverse than the rest of the Federal Government. To correct this and put our country on an even stronger footing, we should capitalize on what makes the United States unique and draw from the range of perspectives that represent the vast diversity of the American people. This legislation gives the Administration the tools necessary to do just that.

“America should show the world the positive things we stand for. When America leads with our values on display, whether we are promoting human rights abroad or helping resolve conflicts to help societies heal and move forward, it should be done with personnel who reflect the entire tapestry of the United States,” Cardin continued.

At Issue:

As of 2015, minorities represented only 22 percent of the overall officer corps in the military, far less than the enlisted force they lead of approximately 40 percent minorities. In the intelligence community, minorities represented 24 percent of the workforce but only 11 percent of its senior ranks. The most recent numbers available demonstrate Hispanic and Asian representation within the Department of State's workforce are at 6 percent each; and although African Americans represent 15 percent of the total State Department workforce, they only represent 6 percent of the Foreign Service. In terms of gender at the Department, women make up only 44 percent of the Foreign Service and Civil Service workforce and 32 percent of the Senior Executive Service and Senior Foreign Service. Native Americans are virtually non-existent among our Foreign Service agencies workforce. Many of these racial and ethnic groups remain stagnated in low and mid-career positions.

About the National Security Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Act of 2017:

  • State that national security agencies should promote diversity and inclusion in our national security workforce. The legislation makes U.S. policy that this must be a joint effort between senior leadership, managers, and the entire workforce, as well as those responsible for human resources, equal employment opportunity, and diversity and inclusion issues (Section 3).
  • Collect, analyze, and disseminate workforce demographic data. National security agencies would be required to make demographic data and other information regarding the state of diversity in the national security workforce available to the public, the appropriate congressional committees, and their workforces no later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the Act. Each national security agency would release a report on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts on an annual basis thereafter. National security agencies would identify additional categories for voluntary data collection of current employees and collect additional demographic data as determined necessary. (Section 5) 
  • Expand professional development and career advancement opportunities and entry-level pipeline opportunities to underrepresented groups to support mission needs, and track the demographics of professional development program participants and their placement into senior-level positions. (Section 6 and 8)  
  • Conduct stay and exit interviews and surveys, and analyze demographics of participants to understand how results differ according to gender, race and national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and other demographic variables. (Section 6) 
  • Ensure leadership engagement and accountability by (1) rewarding and recognizing senior leadership and supervisors’ efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, (2) expanding training on unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies for senior leadership, and (3) collecting and disseminating voluntary demographic data of external advisory committees and boards. (Section 7)