Charting a Path for Inclusive Representation

By Mana Mostatabi, Senior Director

In spring 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), commemorating all the office has done over the past decade to promote and cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace at one of the nation’s leading federal agencies. Since its creation, ODI has also undertaken enormous efforts to build bridges with the many diverse communities the Bureau serves, in particular communities who have historically had little trust in the agency.

The FBI’s effort to build trust among the communities it serves has seen support from top to bottom. Since assuming the role of FBI Director, Christopher Wray, in particular, has communicated how crucial it is to the success of the Bureau that it diversify its workforce, going so far as to make diversity and inclusion one of his three priority initiatives. “I’ve said publicly, we’re not yet where we need to be, but we’re working hard to get there. The goal is to look like the American people we serve—throughout our ranks and also to have a diversity of life experiences, so we are better able to understand the issues that diverse American communities care about,” says Wray.

For this reason, the FBI launched The Beacon Project: a targeted outreach campaign to enhance relationships, engagement, and trust with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Hatcher has and continues to work alongside the Bureau in developing and deploying communications that build trust and show up for Black and brown communities in ways not seen in prior decades. This trust is also integral in creating employment pipelines for a new, diverse generation who may have never considered a role for themselves at the agency. Combined with the FBI’s collegiate hiring initiatives, HBCU campus tours, and even its participation in events like the HBCU Battle of the Bands and Afrotech, the Bureau has been intentional in how they reach and engage potential talent from Black and brown communities.

Chief Diversity Officer Scott McMillion, an FBI veteran who served as the chair of the FBI’s Black Affairs Diversity Committee, has been emphatic that the Bureau’s makeup needs to be recalibrated to better serve the Bureau’s mission: “With greater diversity among the ranks and roles of the FBI,” McMillion said in an interview last year, “we can build communal trust as well as credibility in the community.”

But the work can’t stop there, and the FBI is striving toward creating an inclusive culture. McMillion notes, “We know that people are more productive and have higher morale when they feel included. The advances we make as an inclusive culture will allow for expanded creativity, innovation, and ideas to achieve the FBI mission.”

Over the past 10 years, ODI has made meaningful strides in building that communal trust, resulting in an increase in the percentage of applications from minorities, women, and individuals from other underrepresented communities. ODI’s work has also been integral in increasing minority and female representation at every level of the organization. Although, the FBI itself admits, there is further work to do, its current efforts—which also include internal DEI-related trainings, cultural programming, awareness campaigns, and special programs to honor and celebrate the diversity of the FBI’s workforce—position the next generation of the FBI to better represent not only the communities they serve, but also the communities of which they are a part.