The Importance of a Chief Diversity Officer in Today’s Workplace
The idea of an executive position devoted strictly to creating and monitoring a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs is a relatively new concept. It is a task that was traditionally in the realm of the human resources (HR) department, and for the most part, it was given very little in the form of resources or attention.
In the fast-changing and evolving workforce of today, it has very much become a workers’ market, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, companies need to step up their efforts to attract the best candidates to fill open jobs.
Who Is an Ideal CDO Candidate?
Many companies recognize the need for a CDO, but what sort of person is a good fit for the position? According to a recent report by Glassdoor on jobs and hiring trends, companies are competing fiercely to put together a diverse workforce. A good CDO is important to attract DEI workers, but the ideal CDO candidate is not necessarily someone with a long background in human resources. Anyone with a record of informal DEI work, especially if they have a background in working with DEI clients, can be a potential CDO. Those with experience in sales and marketing deserve consideration as well.
A good CDO must have excellent communication skills. The ability to clearly and effectively communicate both orally and in writing is highly sought after for many positions, but in the case of the CDO, it is vital.
The importance of the CDO role has increased to the point where most CDOs now have regular direct communication with the CEO and the head of human resources. To create a positive DEI working environment, the CDO has to be able to advocate for DEI needs and be persuasive enough to affect real change in the company.
As DEI programs are given increasingly more resources to work with, the ability of the CDO to use those resources in the best possible way is vital to success. To be successful, the CDO must liaise with different departments throughout the company, so strong time management skills are important, too. In mid- to large-sized companies, a CDO will have a staff of their own, which means that the CDO will need good leadership skills. The CDO position is a complex one and requires a well-rounded individual to carry out all the various duties.
The Changing Face of Corporate America
The increasing importance of DEI is a part of a larger sea change in corporate America. Workers’ expectations for a company’s culture have changed, and with a workers’ market, companies need to change their culture to attract the best candidates.
According to a recent report from Deloitte, job hunters are looking for their future employers to be a “social enterprise,” which Deloitte defines as “an organization whose mission combines revenue growth and profit-making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. It is an organization that shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen (both inside and outside the organization), serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organization.”
Employees now want to see their companies working to grow a community atmosphere. They want to feel that they are an important part of the whole and not just faceless drones sitting in cubicles all day long. They also want to be proud of their employers’ efforts in the community. This sense of belonging must include DEI programs that make the workplace welcoming to all. According to the Deloitte report, two-thirds of CEOs surveyed considered inclusive growth among their top concerns, much higher than they rated shareholder value.
The Deloitte report also points out that over the last 20 or so years, peoples’ trust in other institutions that used to be at the forefront of promoting inclusionary policies has dropped to an all-time low. The government and media are now viewed with such distrust that people are beginning to look elsewhere for solutions to economic and social problems plaguing the nation. Many job seekers are looking at their potential employers to fill the role once played by the government and media.
For businesses to compete for the best talent available, they need to create an inclusive culture that promises something more than just a source of income. Corporate practices need to be changed to allow for more input from employees. Companies need to not only show that they offer a good salary and benefits but that they are a part of the community and share the same concerns about society as their workers. A good CDO is fast becoming a necessity in today’s corporate environment. If the current attitudes of job seekers continue as they have been, CDOs will likely be even more important to a company’s overall health.