Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs Project

Elevating diverse voices and perspectives in international affairs

Decision-making processes that include diverse voices and perspectives lead to more ideas, more innovation, and more robust policy solutions. But many of those who are best positioned to provide those diverse perspectives are underrepresented, particularly at the senior levels of organizations shaping U.S. national security and foreign policy.

The Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs Project (DLIA) embodies a two-fold mandate focused on internally and externally facing programming. We aim to take a full-scope approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at CSIS. This includes supporting employees at every level through dedicated initiatives, ensuring support from top-level leadership, and establishing a transparent process for continuous engagement and growth. Alongside an internal portfolio serving over 250 CSIS staff, DLIA aims to promote diverse voices, facilitate meaningful conversations, and drive DEI strategy as an institutional imperative for the national security community.

A Message from our Director

CSIS strives to serve as a thought leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As a top-rated national security and defense think tank, including and elevating diverse voices is essential to the continued relevance of our work. The goal of the CSIS Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs (DLIA) Project is to encourage innovation in international policy by expanding who is included in our research and scholarship. We will accomplish this by amplifying diverse perspectives and reexamining foreign policy with a DEI lens. Issues of equity, justice, identity, and belonging are critical to the framing and execution of smart, sound, effective, and innovative policy.

DEI is both a moral responsibility and a good business practice. A diverse and inclusive workforce is more creative and innovative, and more likely to be high performing. By contrast, a homogeneous workforce can lead to decisions and policies that disproportionately impact historically exploited and marginalized communities. Policy decisions made without the input of the audiences they serve can disenfranchise segments of our population domestically. On the global end, our strategic competitors are increasing investment in diverse populations and STEM. If we do not respond in kind, we are putting our national security interests at risk.

Therefore, DEI is a pressing national security imperative. The shifting demographics in the workforce to millennials and Gen Z make yet another case for investing in DEI. We must move with urgency to meet demands that the pathways to a career in international affairs are visible, accessible, and attainable to all. Finally, we must actively demonstrate that a career in international affairs can be a great path for anyone.

— Hadeil Ali, Director, Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs 

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Driving Impact

Have you ever wondered how Washington’s most influential policy leaders got their start? Driving Impact explores the personal and professional journeys of today’s most prominent policy trailblazers. Host Hadeil Ali, director of the Diversity and Leadership in International Affairs Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C, sits down with policy pioneers to dive into what drew them to their work, how their upbringings shaped their professional paths, and the moments that defined their careers. 

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