Diversity is a hot topic in the United States these days. Diversity and inclusion are on everybody’s minds, from board rooms to city council meetings. Chief diversity officers have become more visible than ever before, and companies of all sizes are looking for ways to improve their organizational culture and increase diversity among employees.
What Does a Chief Diversity Officer Do?
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Chief diversity officers work across an organization to ensure that everyone feels included and valued at every level of the company – this article will explore what it takes to be a chief diversity officer.
Chief Diversity Officer: Chief Diversity Officers (CDO) play an important role in addressing issues of discrimination, harassment, inequality, and other challenges related to diversity within organizations.
CDOs often work with staff members at all levels of an organization to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Chief Diversity Officers are responsible for developing the organization’s strategic plan related to diversity initiatives, creating an inclusive organizational culture that values differences in background and experience while ensuring equitable treatment across the entire workforce.
Chief Diversity Officers are also responsible for leading the organization’s diversity team to ensure that the goals of the strategic plan are achieved. Chief Diversity Officer responsibilities can include:
- Developing an effective organizational change management strategy related to diversity initiatives
- Acting as a liaison between senior leadership and employees with regards to all aspects of workforce equity, inclusion, discrimination/harassment issues, etc.
- Providing guidance on how best to address challenges related to diversity within HR policies or procedures
- Working closely with various departments across the organization (i.e., Marketing, Legal) in order to develop more effective strategies concerning recruitment efforts and employee retention rates within underrepresented groups
- Supervising other staff members who have been selected by Chief Diversity Officers to serve on diversity task forces or committees
- Acting as an internal resource for employees who feel they have been impacted by discrimination, lack of opportunity within the organization, etc.
- Developing new strategies and initiatives that support workforce equity/diversity while also increasing organizational productivity (i.e., mentoring programs)
- Ensuring all processes related to hiring are race-, gender-, age-, disability status-, veteran status–friendly; issues concerning accessibility with regards to recruiting events; working closely with senior leadership in order to develop more effective retention practices
- Chief Diversity Officers may report directly to the CEO or Board of Directors at some organizations; others Chief Diversity Officers report up through their respective Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO). Although Chief Diversity Officer responsibilities vary, Chief Diversity Officers are typically responsible for developing and implementing diversity initiatives that align with their company’s mission statements, strategic plans, business goals/objectives.
Chief Diversity Officer roles also include the following:
- Increasing the number of women in leadership positions by assessing critical development needs to increase promotional opportunities while ensuring strong mentorship programs exist across all levels of management
- Providing guidance on best practices related to employee engagement surveys so employees feel comfortable being open about any concerns they have regarding diversity issues throughout the organization
- Utilizing skills acquired during the previous Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role – especially when it comes to increasing transparency around compensation reviews and pay equity; optimizing recruitment processes through leveraging relationships developed within communities such as the Pride Network, and reducing attrition rates by building strong development programs.
Job Requirements for a Diversity Officer
The Chief Diversity Officer is in charge of optimizing workforce output through targeted talent management programs aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented groups represented across all levels of an organization’s structure. The successful candidate for a Diversity Officer should have demonstrated proficiency in the following activities from previous employment.
- Articulate a point of view and position yourself as an authority on the subject.
- Manage difficult situations with ease.
- Create executive presentations, milestones, and deliverables for senior management.
- Assist in developing top executives’ speeches.
- Facilitate discussion among various business units, departments, regions, and cultures.
- Contemporary diversity, equity, inclusion, and multiculturalism ideas, and concepts are extremely well-versed.
- Ability to research, identify, and implement best practices of diversity and inclusion in a complex organization.
- Ability to work effectively and collaboratively across multiple stakeholders.
- Ability to provide documentation of negotiation skills and work with a range of constituents.
- Candidates must have at least 7-9 years of progressive responsibility in administration, with a preference for a fast-paced, high-tech workplace.
- A bachelor’s degree is required, but a graduate degree is preferable, with suitable experience.
Where Should a Diversity Officer Be Placed Within the Organizational Structure?
Now you’ve seen an example of a diversity officer job description, as well as a list of skills that successful applicants must have. So, in what role does a diversity officer fit within the company’s hierarchy?
The decision of where to place a diversity officer depends on your existing organizational chart. The majority of diversity officers are found within the human resources (HR) department, which may or may not be an appropriate location. Why? Because HR is seen as more tactical than strategic and doesn’t have a seat at the C-suite table.
That isn’t to say that a diversity officer shouldn’t be part of the HR team. Some organizations have strong, strategic HR departments that engage with the C-suite on a regular basis.
The role of a chief diversity officer is to ensure that all employees are engaged, productive, and feel safe in their positions. To do this successfully, it’s important for CDOs to build trust with senior leadership teams as well as throughout the organization at large.
A successful CDO will provide guidance on best practices related to employee engagement surveys so employees feel comfortable being open about any concerns they have regarding diversity issues throughout the organization. The CHRO skills acquired during previous roles can be utilized when it comes to increasing transparency around compensation reviews and ensuring that diversity is a priority for hiring and promotion committees.
We hope this article has given you a solid foundation of what Chief Diversity Officer is and some insight into CDO responsibilities.