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5 Strategies For Recruiting Your Next Chief Diversity Officer

A diverse workforce is essential to the success of an organization. And when it comes to building strong teams, successful organizations focus on developing a more inclusive culture that welcomes and supports diverse leaders and talent.

Many companies have created diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) roles to align with their strategic goals and create a sense of belonging for employees. These goals are often centered on diversifying the workforce, expanding supplier diversity and improving employee engagement.

Numerous studies show that diverse teams are more innovative and successful than their homogenous counterparts. Developing a culture that’s centered on belonging increases psychological safety and overall team engagement, which accelerates performance across several key metrics:

  • 35% more likely to outperform their competition1
  • Achieve higher revenues by 19%2
  • Increase performance by 56%3
  • Have 50% less turnover1

DEI Executive Recruitment

As the job market becomes more competitive, DEI jobs are in higher demand. Diverse candidates, like other talented leaders, are being courted for multiple opportunities at once, making them more selective when considering options and, thus, harder to recruit.

Having supported DEI executive leadership searches for many companies across various industry sectors, SSG has gathered helpful insights on what Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) look for in an organization and the role itself. So, as you begin your next search, here are five considerations to help you design the position and prepare to enter the talent market.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity officers need to understand how committed your company is to DEI, where the organization is on the journey and if there is executive and board sponsorship. Strong organizations do more than include people at the table. They back this commitment with measurable goals, accountability and resources to ensure the work is sustainable.

DEI Job Titles

DEI is a growth field where you can choose the best title to suit your organization using some of the most common titles available in the job market. The most popular job titles for diversity, equity and inclusion include:

  • Chief Diversity Officer—Chief DE&I, Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging
  • Vice President of Diversity—VP of DE&I, VP of Culture, VP of Inclusion & Belonging
  • Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion—Diversity Director, Director of Culture

DEI titles typically vary based on the size of the organization.

Who Does the Chief Diversity Officer Report To?

The CDO may report directly to the CEO, COO, CHRO and sometimes the VP of Talent. In any case, candidates want to precisely know the rationale for the existing reporting relationship, if they have access to executives at all levels, how progress and concerns are reported to the Board of Directors and how success will be measured.

Individual Contributor vs. Manager

Organizations just starting their DEI journey may design the position to serve as an individual contributor with more grassroots support within the organization. Larger organizations and those further along the journey tend to have a DEI team reporting to a leader.

Depending on your goals, you’ll need to decide the level of support required for the DEI leader to impact the company and achieve successful outcomes positively.

Considerations include:

  • Will the DEI leader have access to other consulting resources or colleagues to get the work done?
  • Is the organization open to adding team members to meet the needs of a DEI strategy?
  • What is the budget to support the strategy and priorities?

DEI Leadership Competencies

Some candidates gained their DEI experience while working in Human Resources, and others moved into DEI roles from other functional areas, including Marketing, Operations, etc. Consider your goals when determining what kind of business and leadership experience is needed but remember to focus on the core competencies versus experience.

As with any role, candidates want to ensure they are aligned with the company’s vision, business goals and overall approach. However, with DEI roles, this is heightened. DEI leaders want to work with companies open to thinking differently, operating transparently and focusing on diversifying the workforce at all levels.

As you begin recruiting your next Chief Diversity Officer, keep these five critical considerations in mind to find the right candidate – someone who will align with your vision, drive results, and move your organization’s DEI journey forward.




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