October 12, 2020

5 Facts Every Chief Diversity Officer Should Know

By Sam Caucci

5 Facts Every Chief Diversity Officer Should Know

Were you recently appointed as your company’s Chief Diversity Officer? Are you the first person in your company to hold this position?

If your answer to either of those questions is “yes,” then you’re not alone.

At 1Huddle, we’ve been hearing from a lot of companies who are starting to give D&I programming the attention and resources it deserves, which we’re excited to see. We also know that over 60 percent of Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) were appointed to their positions within the last three years and usually don’t have a framework to help them navigate their roles.

So, here are five things you need to know if you’re moving into a D&I role like Chief Diversity Officer or know someone who is:


1. NEARLY HALF OF S&P 500 COMPANIES EMPloy a cdo

Diversity and inclusion are not new topics.

However, as Black Lives Matter became a mainstream social movement following the death of George Floyd, many organizations throughout America pledged to invest their resources, time, and energy into making meaningful strides on D&I.

Now, 47 percent of companies on the S&P 500 index employ a CDO or equivalent role.

2. CDOs turnover too quickly

The demand for CDOs in America is quickly rising, yet the job is plagued by unusually high turnover rates. So what’s the problem?

Many CDOs leave their position due to a lack of resources, inadequate support from high-level executives at their company, and mounting pressure to meet unrealistic expectations. Some also move jobs for higher wages and better benefits at other companies since experienced CDOs are in higher demand than ever.

So, how do we fix these high turnover rates? Well, since all CDOs are expected to tackle a wide range of initiatives to enhance company outputs from the bottom up, it’s essential they have the continued support of their higher ups and peers throughout the company. Employees at every level need to recognize that D&I directly affects business priorities, rather than viewing it as separate or disconnected from the company’s core interests.

We also need to invest in our CDOs and give them access to the resources they need to create meaningful change, which brings us to our next point.

3. All successful CDOs need a budget for new tech

Is diversity and inclusion training really working? Can a one-time training change employee behavior in a meaningful way?

Let’s be honest, a lot of employees don’t take diversity training seriously. It’s often viewed as a ‘check the box’ and move on with your day kind of task. And most companies aren’t doing anything to change that. In fact, most companies are actually encouraging and facilitating this disengagement by failing to create saturated, continuous training that will be retained by employees over the long-term.

Diversity and inclusion training is broken, and the time to change that is now.

If we want to see a change in behavior at every level of our companies, then we need to move faster. We need new budgets to accelerate that change, and we need to leverage technology so that every single worker — from the security guard to the CEO — has continuous access to D&I training. Because workers aren’t going to keep D&I at the top-of-mind unless companies take the initiative to reframe these topics using interactive methods that will make it stick.

That’s why all CDOs should demand a budget for new technology.

One of the top reasons CDOs leave their jobs is because they weren’t given the resources needed to truly make an impact. Telling your CDO to update a D&I training manual from the ‘90s is not giving them the resources they need to do their job. Telling your CDO to host a Zoom seminar about D&I is not giving them the resources they need to make the change they were hired to make.

Over 87 percent of what employees learn using traditional training methods (eLearning, seminars, etc.) is forgotten within 30 days. Why would you invest in a CDO and invest in D&I training for your company only to have employees forget 87 percent of what they learned?

So if you hire a CDO to create meaningful change for tomorrow, but only give them the tools of yesterday to do it, then you are setting them up to fail.
If we want to foster lasting progress and real change in our organizations and employees, then we need to give every CDO a budget for new tech that will allow them to invest in the tools they need today to create a more equitable tomorrow.

4. Who a CDO reports to drastically affects the role

Diversity, inclusion, and equity shape every level of an organization, so most CDOs are expected to develop, maintain, and support D&I goals throughout every part of their company. However, some CDOs' ability to create lasting change throughout their organization’s culture and practices is limited by who they report to.

Most CDOs report to either: the head of HR, the general counsel, or directly to the CEO. The best opportunity to foster broad and meaningful influence throughout an organization occurs when CDOs report directly to the CEO. Otherwise, their influence is restricted.

If a CDO reports to the head of HR, they likely only have influence when it comes to hiring more diverse candidates, but lack the ability to create change after the hiring process is over. Similarly, if a CDO reports to the general counsel, they are probably restricted to making sure D&I initiatives comply with company policies.

Studies show that when D&I is treated as a business priority (meaning the CDO reports to the CEO) 75 percent of CDOs felt that their employer set them up for success and gave them the ability to perform at their highest level. But when CDOs felt their organization was simply taking a reactive approach to D&I or perceived it as a mere compliance issue (by having CDOs report to the general counsel) only 43 percent of CDOs felt set up for success.

Since CDOs strive to create substantive change to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their organization, having a CDO report directly to the CEO is the most effective pipeline for success.

5. Setting measurable goals will help CDOs create lasting change

Simply saying the right thing is not enough. How you measure your organization’s progress matters. 

The key to success is setting measurable, data-driven goals. Using diversity metrics to determine how much progress a company is actually making will prove much more effective than simply putting out corporate statements with empty rhetoric about why diversity matters or outlining new HR goals without any real weight behind them.

Taking a public stance on why diversity matters to your company is important. Having initial conversations about diversity with your employees is important. But if your company is really serious about making progress on D&I, then you need to set measurable goals on how you’re going to improve and back those goals up with real consequences. 

Imagine if high-ranking company executives tied their bonuses to their achievements on data-driven diversity goals. Then we would start to see real action, real change, and real achievements. 

Until setting measurable D&I goals becomes a standard practice for all companies, then we will likely face more empty rhetoric and promises that never transform into tangible results.

WHAt's next?

Are you a 1Huddle customer? Do you want to learn more about diversity and inclusion? Do you want to help your CDO succeed or hire one who will?

Then talk to one of our customer success reps today. They will walk you through the programs 1Huddle offers on diversity and inclusion and provide you with games to ensure your organization and employees make lasting progress on your D&I goals. 

Here are some of the most popular D&I games 1Huddle clients around the world are playing right now:

D&I Games copy (1)
  1. Does Your Company Need a CDO? Find out how your company’s D&I programming compares to key competitors and whether you should be hiring a CDO.
  2. Building Inclusive Managers and Leaders: Middle managers are often left out of the diversity and inclusion process. Learn how managers and leaders at every level can embrace inclusivity and help build more equitable workplaces.
  3. How to Set Up Your CDO for Success: Already hired a CDO? Great! Learn how to set them up for success from day one and support them throughout their entire career. 
  4. Embracing Diversity: Learn about the many benefits to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workplace. When the diversity of our teams reflects the diversity of our society, we all benefit.
  5. Promoting Inclusion: This game helps us recognize the importance of inclusion by learning to further respect and appreciate our differences. When everyone’s voices are heard and workers are equitably represented, we all win.

These are just five of 1Huddle’s most popular D&I games — there’s hundreds more in our game library. So talk to us and turn your D&I goals into D&I wins.

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Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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