Does Your Company Need a Chief Diversity Officer?

Joe Weinlick
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Diversity at an employer starts at the top, and some companies have begun hiring chief diversity officers to focus on diversity and inclusion. As of 2018, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies have CDOs on their payrolls as high-level leaders. These company officers manage diversity through HR and within the leadership structure to affect positive changes.

Why Companies Hire Chief Diversity Officers

Companies that foster diversity and inclusion outperform similar companies that have homogeneous teams. Diverse companies that advance more women in the workplace can add as much as $12 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product by 2025 by taking initiatives in 2018. Having more diversity puts your company at a competitive advantage in all phases of business, including innovation, employee engagement, customer relations and collaboration. A chief diversity officer has the expertise to make these things happen.

Business growth occurs when you have a diverse workplace. Your employees should mimic your target audience in terms of demographics because your teams can relate to those customers more readily. For example, if you sell products geared toward busy parents of young kids, your staffing demographic should reflect that.

Look for Exceptional People in Leadership Roles

Exceptional hires come from any walk of life. These exceptional workers think outside the box, have different viewpoints than those already on the team and work well with others. A CDO can recognize these exceptional people and put them in roles of company leadership to create the filter-down effect needed for change.

Neutralize the Dominant Group

The dominant group at your company sets the rules, and everyone else goes along with what the dominant group does. A chief diversity officer must recognize that the company needs enough upper-level leaders outside of the dominant group until there is no dominant group. Then the diversity environment begins to change. For example, companies that hire female CEOs begin to see more women at the company because the CEO hires more women as executives and officers, and those officers bring on more women in management roles. Eventually, that company has more women because the diversity started at the top.

Hire the Best People

A chief diversity officer teaches a company how to hire the best people rather than forcing a diversity issue. However, a CDO can help identify a company's flawed hiring practices and policies that may dampen diversity and prevent the company from bringing in the best possible talent. You may find that subtle hiring practices, such as requiring a particular college degree, can limit your hires. You might feel as if you can only hire people with a mechanical engineering degree, but what about similar degrees that have different titles? Unless you expand your job criteria or job postings, you automatically limit your candidate pool.

A chief diversity officer knows how to spot a company's weaknesses and which new voices to bring in to overcome flawed practices. A CDO also knows that the most effective place to start is at the top, with company leadership. Start your push for diversity now to realize success sooner.

Photo courtesy of Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement at


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