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TSA’s Inclusion Action Committee Reveals Actions Taken and Planned to Improve Diversity

Priorities to be piloted and launched throughout FY 2022 include D&I themed campaigns and events; the creation of employee resource groups; transformation in disciplinary, attendance, and promotion policy; expanded D&I training; and the creation of D&I councils throughout the Agency to coordinate with the National Change Agents Council. 

A report by the Inclusion Action Committee (IAC) has highlighted ways that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can improve its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) policies, processes and culture.

The IAC was created in August 2020 by TSA Administrator David Pekoske in response to nationwide societal tensions, to directly engage employees and help ensure that TSA continues to be a fair and equitable organization built on mutual respect and open communication. 

The Committee uses a four-phased approach:

Listen & Learn: Engage with TSA employees and external organizations to receive feedback and benefit from existing best practices for promoting D&I in the workplace. 

Prioritize & Align: Review the data collected during the previous phase to identify initial areas of opportunity and develop a long-term sustainment strategy. 

Action: Identify immediate implementable action recommendations and establish milestones to strengthen and sustain a successful TSA D&I model. 

Sustainability: Identify recommendations designed to sustain Agency focus on training and establish the D&I enterprise structure.

“Over the past year, IAC has heard from more than 7,000 employees, listening to employee concerns, and met with 19 public and private sector organizations to identify best practices,” Pekoske said. “These engagements led to strong recommendations and the creation of several initiatives that I believe will greatly benefit TSA now and into the future.”

The IAC found that 82.2 percent of respondents to an employee survey believe it is important to have diverse leadership at all levels. However, only 57.6 percent feel that TSA’s current leadership reflects its diverse workforce and only 50 percent agree that senior leaders within their organization foster a D&I environment. 

Pekoske himself told a House Homeland Security Committee in September that TSA struggles with diversity within the upper leadership ranks, adding “we need to fix that, and we need to fix it properly”.

The IAC report highlights 16 priority recommendations, five of which have already been implemented, with the remaining recommendations scheduled to be piloted and launched throughout FY22.   

Priorities that have already been launched: 

  • The creation of TSA’s Gender Identity policy, ensuring all employees are treated equally and are held to the same job performance requirements no matter how they identify.
  • The implementation of a 10th Leadership Principle at TSA to Support and Sustain an Inclusive Culture within the Administrator’s Intent 2.0.
  • The creation of the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Officer position at TSA, which Pekoske said in December was in the process of being filled.
  • Incorporating D&I performance requirements for all TSA employees no matter their position, title or rank.
  • The inclusion of at least one question focused on inclusive leadership in supervisory position interviews.

Priorities to be piloted and launched throughout FY 2022 include D&I themed campaigns and events; the creation of employee resource groups; transformation in disciplinary, attendance, and promotion policy; expanded D&I training; and the creation of D&I councils throughout the Agency to coordinate with the National Change Agents Council. 

Pekoske thanked all the Committee members for their hard work and commitment to the project, as well as all of TSA’s valued employees who submitted their feedback and ideas. “The IAC will remain in place as an advisory committee to continue to strengthen our inclusive culture by cultivating a supportive environment for our employees,” the Administrator said. “In addition, to ensure a diversity of perspectives, one third of the committee will rotate each year. We expect to advertise opportunities to join the IAC in the coming months.”

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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