Diversity Insight

Chief Diversity Officers Aren’t Aligning with Overall Strategy

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are increasingly recognized as a valid and important business goal. Being inclusive of a diverse staff exposes the organization to insights based on that group’s background, experiences, and perceptions of the world around it.

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This can help the company be more creative, be better at problem solving, and be more understanding of increasingly diverse markets. Additionally, seeing a diverse and inclusive company might help attract more talent from diverse backgrounds, providing a boost to the company’s recruitment efforts.

From a more cynical viewpoint, promoting a company as diverse and inclusive may make consumers think more favorably of the company brand. But even if one might question the motive, the result is still a business benefit.

CDO—New Role, but Is It Making a Difference?

Recognizing the benefits of D&I, many companies have opted to create a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position. Research by Russell Reynolds Associates finds that 47% of companies in the S&P 500 currently have a CDO or equivalent. Sixty-three percent of those have been appointed in the last 3 years.

While it’s a positive sign that companies are taking D&I efforts seriously, research shows that it may not be enough to actually improve results. In fact, the Russell Reynolds research found that many D&I initiatives aren’t properly aligned with business priorities and that CDOs often lack the necessary resources and organizational support to make any lasting changes.

A Good First Step, but More Work Needs to Be Done

Taken as a whole, the relatively recent appointments of diversity executives, the lack of proper alignment between D&I efforts, and company goals as well as the reported lack of resources and organizational support seem to suggest that companies are simply throwing money at D&I efforts—through the hiring or appointment of a CDO—without really strategically thinking through their D&I efforts.

Whether that has to do with the more cynical motivations that could be behind promoting D&I, as we mentioned above, or with simply poor strategic planning, companies that don’t effectively implement a D&I strategy are putting themselves at an increasing disadvantage in the global marketplace.

Inclusion is important and can be especially so when employees first enter an organization. Effective onboarding is especially critical here. We’ll be covering effective onboarding at our annual conference, Workforce L&D.