Are Chief Diversity Officers Set Up To Fail?

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Written by Ann Brown
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As companies strive for diversity, some experts say that chief diversity officers are set up to fail.

According to a  new report from executive search consultancy Russell Reynolds, no matter how hard chief diversity officers (CDOs) work to create diversity in a company their efforts most likely will not have the impact their bosses and boards expect.

A Leader’s Guide: Finding and Keeping Your Next Diversity Officer” surveyed 234 top diversity executives from the S&P 500 cohort and found these execs are overworked, lack the tools they require, and need bigger budgets to actually achieve their goals.

“More than half of those surveyed reported that they don’t have the resources they need to execute new programs and strategies and that they are burdened with additional corporate responsibilities outside of their inclusion work,” Fortune reported.

These execs also lack the data they need to make a difference with just  35 percent of the CDOs reporting they had the employee demographic survey information they needed to support their work.


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CDOs have to jump over these hurdles constantly, even though it has been proven that the more diverse a company the more profitable. In fact, “organizations with diverse boards and executive teams were up to 35 percent more likely to outperform their more homogeneous peers,” Fortune reported.

Without the much-needed support from within their companies, many CDOs may fail. And this can have negative ramifications for companies, especially in times of crisis. “Russell Reynolds’ analysis also found that companies who had public incidents of racist and sexist ‘bad executive behavior’ in 2017 and 2018 saw an average 7 percent decline in market capitalization in the weeks following the news. The combined market hit was about $4 billion. That’s a pretty solid business case for having tough conversations about race and equity in the workplace before the invisible hand comes to slap you upside the head,” Fortune reported.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.