WASHINGTON - Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon E. Panetta and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities President Antonio R. Flores recently signed a landmark memorandum of understanding that creates a partnership between the CIA and HACU to increase the number of Hispanics serving at the Agency. The agreement was signed at the HACU Annual Conference, where Director Panetta provided keynote remarks that highlighted the Agency’s comprehensive program to strengthen the diversity of its workforce.
“My fervent hope is that the mission of the CIA can inspire every part of American society to help this great Agency succeed,” Director Panetta told over 1,000 students, educators, and administrators at the conference. “To do that we have to reflect the full diversity of our nation. Defending America, keeping America safe, is the work of all Americans. And for that reason, your country needs all of you. We need your ingenuity. We need your skills. We need your perspective. We need your knowledge and your insight to help protect a way of life that we all hold dear.”
The memorandum of understanding calls for HACU and the CIA to work together to educate Hispanic students about public service careers with the Agency, and to enlarge the hiring pipeline for them. “Hispanic Americans are writing one of the greatest chapters in the story of our immigrant nation,” Director Panetta said. “America depends on the sheer energy and talent that you bring to the table.”
The three goals of the CIA’s diversity initiative are: to hire talented people from all ethnic, cultural, and educational backgrounds; to give all officers opportunities to excel so that CIA’s leadership ranks become more diverse; and to make the Agency an employer of choice among men and women of all backgrounds.
To further those goals, the Agency earlier this year established the Employee Resource Center led by veteran officer Gerald P. Hamilton. The center has combined, focused, and increased the capabilities of several offices responsible for promoting diversity and equal opportunity at the Agency.
As Director Panetta explained, diversity is mission critical at CIA.
“We need officers who can operate credibly and effectively in just about any society,” he said. “That means things like language fluency and a deep understanding of the local culture. And just as importantly, we need officers who approach intelligence questions from different perspectives based on their different backgrounds: regional, ethnic, educational, and so forth. With a mission that comes down to solving problems and overcoming obstacles, we simply can’t afford to have a workforce of people who all think alike. That’s why I’m committed to making CIA more diverse.”