Are Security Clearances Discriminatory?

Although security clearances are not inherently discriminatory, the security clearance process is conducted by human beings with unconscious biases, and it can put certain jobs out of reach for some demographics. For example, racial and ethnic minorities only make up about 26% of the intelligence community workforce.

Federal agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have trouble attracting, hiring, and maintaining a diverse workforce. The security clearance process contributes to this problem.

While getting a security clearance may be simple and straightforward for someone who has been in the United States for generations, the process takes longer for applicants with foreign roots. Instead of diversity turning someone into a more attractive candidate, it creates hurdles and obstacles that can be challenging to overcome.

Racial Bias in the Security Clearance Process

Additionally, those conducting the security clearance process may need additional race and ethnicity training to eliminate racial bias. During the security clearance process, applicants often need to reveal information protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which can have “potential effects on their clearance approval, job security, and career advancement.”

The security clearance process is also more difficult for diverse applicants, and many people are denied security clearances because of student loan delinquency and other financial issues. This becomes a huge problem when Black college graduates owe on average $7,400 more in student loans than their White counterparts.

Possible Solutions

Transparency, training, and awareness can make the security clearance process easier for all applicants without significant policy changes. Simply giving applicants a clearer understanding of the process can go a long way and educating employees can help them identify and eliminate prejudice from within.

Recruiters can also correct the misperceptions and fears of those who ‘opt-out’ of jobs that require security clearances by making the details of the process more accessible.

Even just sharing what federal agencies are looking for and how long the process usually takes can go a long way.

What If My Security Clearance Gets Denied?

If your security clearance gets denied, you can appeal the decision, especially if you feel it had anything to do with your protected characteristics (race, sex, religion, etc.).

The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC can walk you through the appeals process and defend your rights and your career. With 30 years of award-winning federal employment law experience, we can help you find a solution in a timely manner.

Learn more about getting a security clearance – and what our team can do to help you – by calling us at (202) 350-3881 or sending us a message online.