In recent years, many global intelligence agencies are turning their eye inward with major reforms, analysis, and strategizing around a new risk: the sector’s stifling lack of diversity. From the UK’s 2018 report into Diversity and Inclusion in the UK Intelligence Community to the US’s annual Demographic Reports that collect – and publish – data on diversity across a staggering 19 different intelligence and national security agencies, we concur with growing evidence advocating for process review and analysis across different elements of diversity in intelligence, national security, and security vetting.

Intelligence services are at the forefront of identifying and understanding complex and multifaceted threats against the state, but how much do we know about the experiences of those who operate behind the curtain?

Our new research published in the International Studies Review comprised a systematic review of what’s known – and can be known – about diversity in the intelligence sector. It found that diversity in the sector is a critical tool of emancipation and inclusion for minoritised groups seeking representation in ‘secret’ intelligence institutions. Diversity is also seen as critical for fulfilling major, and growing, workforce shortages. Yet, workers’ diversity can also be co-opted for its utilitarian purposes: reducing groupthink, as well as surveillance and intelligence-gathering on minoritized groups which raises serious questions around the ethics, and circumstances, of diversity in the sector.

Please click here to read the full article “The latest risk: the intelligence sector’s stifling lack of diversity?” published in the Global Policy Journal, written by Griffith Asia Insitute members, Dr Elise Stephenson and Professor Susan Harris Rimmer.