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NSA's Equality Advisor to Francis Rose: NSA Hopes to Be a Leader in Diversity and Equality

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"NSA's goal is to be the leader in diversity and equality best practices within the Intelligence Community," commented Debora Plunkett, NSA Senior Advisor to the Director for Equality.

On August 26, Plunkett talked with Francis Rose for his Federal News Radio Show, "In Depth with Francis Rose." The show airs weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Washington D.C. region. Plunkett discussed her newly formed role at NSA and what she hopes to accomplish.

During the 30-minute interview, Plunkett said that when ADM Rogers first approached her about the position, she said was intrigued. Having always worked on the Agency's direct mission, she wondered what the pace would be like as she transitioned into an enabling role. She quickly discovered that the work is both energizing and exciting.

She said the position was created for the success of NSA's mission, "We need the ability to recruit, develop, promote, reward, and retain a highly diverse and talented work force, providing opportunities for women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities at NSA that are equal to those of the overall population."

Plunkett said she sees her job as a balance between discovering and learning. In her position, she examines current agency policies and processes, researches industry and government best practices, and promotes awareness about the importance of diversity and equality.

She stated, "NSA's mission deserves the rich environment of ideas and collaboration that comes from having a truly diverse workforce where all are valued." Plunkett reiterated that NSA can't solve its emerging technical challenges without the best and the brightest from all walks of life.

"We want to take advantage of what we can gain from having a diversity of experiences, views, and opinions that come from your ethnicity, your culture, your gender, your race, your orientation," Plunkett said.

During the interview, Plunkett also talked about the genuine and heartfelt thanks she has received as a result of activities held at NSA to promote diversity issues. Some of these activities have included guest speakers who have come to address the workforce at the invitation of other senior leaders at the agency.

When asked about important partners in the agency that help in promoting diversity, she quickly named three: Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office, which carries the banner and sets the goals for the agency; Associate Directorate for Human Resources, which manages the processes that her office examines; and Office of General Counsel, which are "her current best friends," who ensure all implemented changes are legal.

Plunkett also discussed conducting benchmarking to determine best practices and solutions for NSA, as diversity — in the broadest sense of the word — is a critical initiative for the NSA Director. Since she is an advisor, she remarked that the key to success is implementation across the agency.

How will she measure the success of her work? Plunkett declared, "The lasting way is to have a change in perspective, a change in ethos in the organization, and I really believe that it's happening."

While acknowledging that culture change is difficult, she strongly believes it will happen naturally when diversity is inherent in the beginning and embedded into processes, policies, and actions. Then people will hold each other accountable.

To hear the full conversation, visit Federal News Radio.