CIA urgently needs to increase its diversity, but that’s harder than it sounds

America Abroad
Yuri Gripas

Adrianne Rockhill is just the kind of person the CIA is looking to hire. She has degrees from several top tier universities, did private sector work that took her throughout the Middle East and Africa, and at a time when the agency is pushing to increase the diversity within its ranks, she’s African American.

The agency’s effort to improve diversity is about results, as CIA chief John Brennan explained to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in June.

“Diversity not only gives us the cultural understanding we need to operate in any corner of the globe, it also helps us to avoid groupthink, ensuring we bring to bear, a range of perspectives on the complex challenges that are inherent to intelligence work,” he said.

Rockhill grew up in the Maryland suburbs, but now lives near London. She applied to the CIA but didn’t hear back for seven months, when she got a phone call.

“I picked up the phone and she said who she was, and I actually said, oh, I applied for that job months ago, and her reaction back was ‘We’re the CIA and we’re very busy,’ and I was like ok, ‘Fair enough!”

She grew up surrounded by friends and family who work for the federal government, and her father urged her to take the job, but Rockhill had several factors to consider. Taking a CIA job would mean a pay cut, and it could take a year to complete the hiring process.

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