All drafts of mission statements, strategic plans, core values, and other documents should include commitments to diversity and inclusion, specifically defining what you mean by diversity and inclusion, and transparent enforcement. We believe national security leadership that reflects the diversity of America will best serve the interests of the American people.
Track diversity metrics in everything you do: hiring, retention, promotions, benefit usage, performance, job satisfaction, training, etc. Seeing data is the best way to recognize where improvements are needed. A designated individual (Chief Equity Officer) should be accountable for implementing these programs and tracking metrics. Cabinet Secretaries (or equivalent) should ultimately be responsible for progress, or lack thereof, in equity, diversity and inclusion.
If you don’t consider diverse candidates, you cannot hire them. Build in the necessary time to recruit a diverse applicant pool, including by reviewing job descriptions for bias. Studies show that having a single diverse candidate on each shortlist produces similar outcomes as having none, so make sure you are building inclusion into every stage of your hiring process and considering multiple diverse candidates per shortlist.
Diversity of thought is most likely to come from diversity of background and experience, as well as gender, race, and other factors. Diverse candidates are also more likely to come from non-traditional pipelines. Our professional and personal networks are likely to favor people who share our own backgrounds; don’t just use your networks. Reach out and work through many degrees of separation to find well-qualified individuals who may not be known to you already.
Certain criteria for hiring may adversely impact one set of people over another. Review your job materials for coded language that deters female and marginalized applicants. List as requirements only those things that are truly required. In evaluating individual applicants, favor a whole-of-candidate approach that weighs everything a candidate brings to the table. Do not assume vetting problems; commit to working through potential “red flags,” especially for diverse candidates.
Leadership and representation amongst senior appointees are absolutely critical to achieving diversity across federal agencies. As you consider cabinet appointments, make leadership on diversity a core criterion in reviews and selection, and a topic of discussion with candidates. You should advance senior leaders who can demonstrate a record of achievement on building and sustaining inclusive workplaces.
The best way to attract diverse talent is to show your commitment to supporting them. An organization’s reputation is made quickly. Both strong support and lack of support will be modeled by junior managers, and noted by potential future hires. Ensure an inclusive and respectful work environment for the benefit of your current team and as a signal to future hires.
The values of an organization are expressed in the way people treat each other. Leaders support diversity by vocalizing their support and also by mentoring and sponsoring diverse individuals. Fostering an inclusive culture from the bottom-up is just as important. Do not tolerate behavior in subordinates that would not be acceptable in leadership.
In the COVID era, we are all realizing the need to accommodate personal lives. Do not assume external inputs (e.g. spouses, technology, schools) will address the need for flexibility. Be as flexible as possible about hours and locations and provide leave for care-giving and vacations. Leave policies and other benefits do not help if the culture does not encourage their use. Leaders should signal their support by using these policies themselves. At the same time, do not assume candidates with personal obligations are unable or unwilling to take on certain roles. When hiring, do not punish candidates for previous use of flexible work or breaks in careers. Considering a diverse candidate pool means considering a diverse array of life experiences.
Everyone in the organization should understand the resources at their disposal, the policies of the organization, and how the organization plans to tackle unconscious bias. One training is not enough. Follow-up to show your commitment and reinforce the training. Openness to naming and understanding unconscious bias can be a key support for improving your team’s culture of diversity and inclusion.