The Bottom Line Up Front

Learn more about diversity and inclusion at C4ADS.

Diversity is Essential to Our Mission

We seek to understand and disrupt illicit networks to create a world where open, pluralistic societies can be secure and prosperous. In order for us to accomplish this objective, we must model an extremely complex and varied world. Modeling problems from a single perspective results in the same, stale approaches. In order to innovate for peace, we must examine our challenges from a variety of viewpoints. We must recognize unconscious biases may inadvertently impact our analysis. Only by having a workforce with diverse experience and knowledge can we produce the best analysis possible. And as a non-partisan and independent organization, our diversity is the best way we can guard against bias toward a particular ideology or position. Thus, our mission demands that we create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture. 

At C4ADS, we foster diversity, equity, and inclusion and understand them in this way: 

“Diversity is a commitment to the tangible representation of individuals belonging to varied identities and backgrounds, including race, sexual orientation, gender identities, socio-economic status, education, and life experience. ”

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We currently have two dedicated employee resource groups: Queery and BERG.

Queery: Queery at C4ADS is an employee resource and social group dedicated to fostering a supportive community for LGBTQ+ employees. Our mission is to provide a forum for professional and personal development, address concerns relevant to the LGBTQ+ community, and advance C4ADS’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the national security space. Through initiatives like Pride Month Surge Day and collaboration with LGBTQ organizations, we aim to create a workplace where people of all sexualities and genders are welcome and valued members of our team, especially as our organization grows.

BERG: The Black Employee Resource Group (BERG) at C4ADS is a voluntary association committed to supporting and empowering Black employees and their allies. Our mission is to address unique challenges faced by Black employees; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization; and create a supportive work environment. BERG actively engages in raising awareness, fostering open dialogue on diversity issues, and assisting in implementing diversity initiatives. By celebrating diversity, tackling systemic inequalities, and providing a safe space, BERG contributes to C4ADS’s journey towards transparency and inclusivity, starting formally on Juneteenth in 2023.

Why Do We Focus on Diversity?

To hire and support a diverse workforce that can foster more creative, high-context, and productive analysis. We believe that diversity of people brings diversity of thought, which is core to our ability to excel and innovate. 

Equity is a commitment to providing an environment where individuals of diverse identities and backgrounds do not have to overcome unequal barriers to achieve equal results. 

Why Do We Focus on Equity?

To make sure that we are aware of and proactively addressing imbalanced social systems within our field, ensuring the opportunity for diverse voices to address global problems. We are determined to ensure that the opportunities we receive as an organization are shared equitably within our teams. As an organization, we have tried to move beyond the traditional way that think tanks have operated. Instead of accruing opportunity and recognition only at the highest levels of the organization, we strive to give all members of our team the opportunity and recognition that flow from their work. 

Inclusion builds a culture of belonging by actively inviting and empowering the contribution and participation of all people. This means ensuring that each individual is empowered to fully participate in our mission. 

Why Do We Focus on Inclusion?

Simply attracting diverse employees is not sustainable. Inclusion is about creating a diverse future. We do that by tackling the structures that have systemically discouraged participation of historically excluded groups. Our culture is based on openness and excellence, and inclusion is at the core of this. Every member of our team has a key role to play for C4ADS to succeed in its mission to disrupt and defeat illicit networks globally. 

Diversity Is Essential to Our Culture

“Move fast, be fearless, and break things. Be so good they cannot ignore you. Help each other succeed. And, above all else, do what is right. ”

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Trust, support, and respect thrive where there is inclusion and equity. If we want our team to move fast, be fearless, and break things, we must create an environment of trust where every individual is supported and respected. By creating an inclusive and equitable environment, we empower our team to be so good they cannot ignore you. Each individual is a thread, bringing unique talents and experience to the organizational tapestry, helping each other succeed in creating excellence. To promote sharing ethical concerns and seek to do what is right requires faith in leaders and peers. 

Actions We Are Taking

We have undertaken the following ongoing efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work environment: 

  • We conduct a yearly review of pay at comparable organizations to ensure that our compensation is fair. To this end, we have raised our analytical entry-level base salary from $40,000 in 2016 to $65,000 in 2021. In contrast, the Think Tank Diversity Action Statement recommended that entry level salaries be raised to $50,000 by 2025.
  • We use set pay grades and steps with clear criteria for advancement across all analytical grades to ensure pay equity and transparency. 
  • Our educational allowance program provides equitable opportunities to gain new skills and supports professional development across all levels of the organization. We provide our team members annually with $4,500 each to apply to their development. 
  • We provide twelve weeks of paid parental leave to support members of our team, regardless of gender, upon the birth, adoption, or placement for foster care of a child in their home. This is above and beyond the requirements for employers in the District of Columbia. 
  • We provide our interns and staff with laptops and other equipment necessary to fulfill their roles. 
  • We provide stipends (currently $7,200 per semester) to our interns to offset the cost of participating in our internship program, allowing a more diverse pool of candidates to benefit from these opportunities. 
  • We ensure that our interns gain valuable analytical skills and training that they can use to advance their careers. 95% of the interns’ time is spent in training or using their skills, rather than doing administrative tasks (like getting coffee or answering phones). 
  • We collect voluntary Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data from applicants so that we can use data to assess how successful we are in our efforts to increase the diversity of our recruiting pool. We also use this data to identify if there are particular stages in our hiring process that should be evaluated for possible biases.
  • We are continuing to actively broaden our recruiting pipeline to find candidates from diverse backgrounds. We currently post our open positions and internships to 159 colleges and universities across the country, including many public colleges and universities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Additionally, we recruit candidates through Indeed, Glassdoor, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make sure we have a broad audience. 
  • We conduct training for our staff on how to conduct interviews, including recognizing bias in the hiring process, and we encourage all interviewers to take implicit association tests or use other tools to be aware of their own biases. 
  • We use anonymous take home tests during our full time and internship hiring processes to reduce hiring bias. 
  • Our hiring platform allows applicants to record the pronunciation of their name before interviews and include their pronouns so that we can address them correctly and ensure they feel welcome. 
  • Our anonymous weekly pulse surveys and online forum allows every member of the team to raise concerns or address questions directly to the Leadership team. 
  • We have a defined complaints process that is outlined in our Employee Handbook and to which all new hires are directed. This includes anonymous and non-anonymous reporting procedures. 
  • We conduct annual sexual harassment training for all full-time members of our team. 
  • This document was created in consultation with our Leadership team and a working group of team members across our organization.

Looking To The Future

We plan to continue our efforts in all the aforementioned areas, and we also want to look at other ways we can build upon our ongoing efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work environment: 

  1. We will evaluate progress regularly and commit to transparency 
  2. We have outlined a plan for the creation of affinity groups by our team 
  3. We plan to focus on the diversity of our board in future board appointments 
  4. We will focus on how we can better integrate disabilities and neurodiversity into our conception of diversity 
  5. We will annually update quantitative metrics of diversity in C4ADS’ workforce 
  6. We hope to influence our field to make positive change by sharing more about how we have done so