While giving a commencement address at Florida International University in Miami on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice spoke passionately about the importance of diversity in the national security space.
Rice highlighted the importance of having the field reflect "America's best self to the world."
"A diverse national security workforce enables us to unlock all of our nation's talent. There are some 320 million people in the United States. Nearly 40 percent are minorities, and an increasing number of them are earning college and graduate degrees. As America becomes more diverse, so do our best people," Rice said, according to prepared remarks. "Our country—and our policies—will be stronger if we can bring them on board."
Rice also warned of the dangers of "groupthink," which diversity in any space would help combat.
"Groups comprised of different people tend to question one another's assumptions, draw on divergent perspectives and experiences, and yield better outcomes. Whether we're confronting ISIL or Ebola, cybersecurity or climate change, solving today's multifaceted global challenges demands more varied viewpoints and experiences than ever," she pointed out.
"Intelligence analysts, diplomats and military officers who are native speakers may pick up subtle nuances that might otherwise go unnoticed. Diplomats who can read cultural cues may better navigate the political and social currents of a foreign nation. In sum, leaders from diverse backgrounds can often come up with more creative insights, proffer alternative solutions and thus make better decisions.
"The presidential seal in the Oval Office and the Situation Room bears the inscription 'E pluribus unum'—out of many, we are one. That must always be the source of our success and our strength. Without tapping into America's full range of backgrounds, ethnicities, language skills, and social and economic experiences, we're leading in a complex world with one hand tied behind our back," Rice added.
The national security adviser also encouraged her audience to dismiss the naysayers and those who "disparage our diversity."
"Those voices can be loud. They can be intimidating. They can make us feel like we don't belong. But, you know what? Let fear be their problem, not yours. Shake it off. Ignore the haters. And don't you dare let them slow you down," she said.
"That is the incredible power and the enduring promise of this great country. It is the insistent tug of hope that has drawn generations of immigrants and refugees to our shores. 'That notion,' President Obama says, 'that here, in this country, we can make of our lives what we will,' " Rice added.
Read more at Whitehouse.gov.