Building a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Nuclear Security Culture

Sneha Nair - The Stimson Center
Nickolas Roth - Nuclear Threat Initiative
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Since the first days of the Manhattan Project, access to careers and knowledge relating to nuclear issues has been gatekept, preventing the participation of historically marginalized groups, including women, people of color, queer communities, and others. This historic exclusion of marginalized groups has been acute in security-related fields, including nuclear security. In recent years, research has shown the negative impacts of these policies and the need for supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the nuclear security field. DEI are a critical element of a strong organizational culture, which means they are also central to a strong nuclear security culture. DEI are also necessary for fostering excellence and retention in the nuclear security field overall. While some organizations and governments have begun taking muchneeded steps to make nuclear roles more accessible to a diverse range of qualified individuals, the effectiveness of these measures and the depth of support raises questions as to the sustainability of these efforts and their ability to create long-term change. Moreover, diversification must be coupled with steps to create equitable and inclusive organizational environments. While high-level support for DEI exists, statements of support are not the same as action. Institutional DEI policies that are implemented from the top-down can largely overlook the important socioeconomic contexts and root causes that have created exclusionary nuclear security environments. Furthermore, greater research and education are needed to underscore the importance of DEI as a central element of nuclear security culture. To critically examine the effectiveness of current DEI measures to improve representation in the nuclear security field, this paper will explore how DEI policies can strengthen nuclear security, critically assess high-level approaches to DEI in the nuclear security field, identify barriers to implementation, and propose potential solutions for improving DEI approaches at the international level.