Intelligence Community's LGBT Program Wins Award

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks at a Heritage Foundation event in October. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaks at a Heritage Foundation event in October. Kevin Wolf/AP

The 17 agencies in the Intelligence Community, workplaces in which gay and lesbian employees in decades past would have been prosecuted or ostracized, were honored for organizing the “best employee workgroup” last month at a corporate-sponsored workplace rights summit.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday announced that “Out and Equal,” a San Francisco-based nonprofit that advocates workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their allies, had given the federal intelligence agencies’ “IC Pride” delegation its “Outie” award for Employee Resource Group of the Year.

The announcement stressed that the delegation of 30 intelligence employees who attended a summit in Philadelphia in October “beat Fortune 500 peer groups, including Comcast NBC Universal, Deutsche Bank, Verizon, and AT&T.” Attending the panel discussions and breakout sessions allowed federal employees who work in a secretive environment “to draw on best practices in LGBTA workplace inclusion from across the private sector, academia, and government,” the ODNI said in a release.

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The federal intelligence agencies conduct an annual summit on LGBT issues, at which agency heads speak on workplace inclusion issues.

"It is extremely gratifying to see IC Pride recognized as a global leader in advancing LGBTA workplace equality,” said IC Pride Chair Lee M., an officer for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. “It wasn’t that long ago when gay and lesbian intelligence officers could not even be ‘Out’ at work.”

IC Pride is valuable, the chair added, for ways in which it “maximizes and propels rapid diversity change, its use of senior executives to support that speed of change, and the way it has helped reverse long-lived stereotypes of the U.S. government and the IC as non-LGBTA-friendly employers.” Successes on inclusion from individual agencies are “lifted” up and implemented across the IC, he added.

The IC Pride movement got started at the CIA in 1996, and expanded in the 1990s to cover employees at the National Security Agency. It was formalized at ODNI in 2009. Over the past year, the announcement said, the group has helped all 17 intelligence agencies with policies on treatment of transgender employees as well as creation of a training module on LGBT issues for executives.

Testimonials from members were provided without last names. “IC Pride has helped me have a sense of community at work,” said Mackensey B. of NSA. “As a member of IC Pride, I get to actively create the type of workplace I want to be in and I work with some of the best talent the IC has to offer to make the workplace more inclusive for everyone. The friends and mentors I have met through IC Pride have enriched my career and helped me grow as an IC professional.” 

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