Women have been appointed to lead the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS), Toronto office; Katherine Hannah is head of Canada’s largest intelligence gathering office and Zahra Musaji is its deputy director general. They are the first woman and first woman of colour to hold these positions, respectively.
Twenty years ago women only worked in CSIS’s Human Resources and never in counterterrorism. Today they are both working operations and also, focused on increasing diversity. As Hannah stated in part, “to mitigate our unconscious bias”. She acknowledged that there has been systematic racism. In fact, the Toronto office was the subject of a multi-million dollar discrimination lawsuit recently. Currently, only 18 per cent of employees identify as visible minority and of those only 7.6 per cent are in executive positions. Hannah promises that change is coming.
Lack of representation of a country’s population in our national security agency creates intelligence gathering trust issues which therefore affects the integrity of the intelligence received and the safety of Canadians. In an industry that attempts to make rational decisions based on the cross referencing of information from a variety of sources, it’s not rational to have correctable blind spots. For more information about the importance of excavation cultural shadow, read Shadow of Intelligence.