Readers of Constructing Cassandra will remember that our first recommendation for improving intelligence analysis at the Agency was, “Enforce diversity at the CIA for practical, not moral, reasons. We find that the homogeneity of the CIA personnel severely hobbles its central mission” (page 15).
While diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, etc. is not a perfect proxy for cognitive diversity, it certainly plays a role in the sociology of knowledge and the natural selection of accidents that are central to strategic surprises.
It is gratifying, therefore, that in a report released yesterday, a UK parliamentary committee on intelligence and security urged MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to increase the diversity of their workforce, especially in terms of gender.
Specifically, the report notes, “it is the variety of ideas, the competition, the challenge, the lack of ‘group think’, and the interesting collaborations, that a diverse workforce brings to an organisation. If organisations are only recruiting and promoting one sort of person, then they are only going to get one sort of solution to a problem. Even with some of the brightest and the best, if they are cut from the same cultural cloth, this will inevitably result in a narrower perspective.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
You can read more about the committee’s recommendations in yesterday’s Telegraph, Guardian and on the BBC.