Appointing a chief diversity officer isn't enough to make a workplace diverse


HR Dive | March 5, 2019

The HR Dive article, "Appointing a chief diversity officer isn't enough to make a workplace diverse," features the Russell Reynolds Associates paper, "A Leader's Guide: Finding and Keeping Your Next Chief Diversity Officer." The article is excerpted below.

Issues of diversity are not new to organizations, but recent social movements have prompted S&P 500 companies to appoint leaders to approach diversity as a business issue, according to a study by management consulting firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Nearly half of the organizations represented in the study (47%) had a chief diversity officer (CDO), but 63% of those CDOs were appointed or promoted to their roles within the past three years.

However, according to the perceptions of 97 diversity leaders in the study, many D&I initiatives weren't aligned with business priorities, and CDOs often lacked the necessary resources and support from their organizations. Researchers concluded that merely appointing people to the position of CDO is not enough to produce lasting changes in D&I initiatives.



The demand for CDOs is rising, as the tight labor market drives up the talent hunt and more employers recognize the value of a diverse workforce. Companies also are hiring more CDOs in response to investors who are alarmed about the number of discrimination claims filed against the firms. Russell Reynolds said that in its review of 2017 and 2018 incidents involving executive misconduct, it found a $4 billion decline in market capitalization following public exposure of these incidents. The #MeToo movement may have increased the demand for more sexual harassment training, which also affects the demand for CDOs.

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