Chief Diversity Officer Fallacy
The Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position has taken off in recent times with the corporate world taking proactive strides to create diverse and inclusive workplaces. As lauded as these organizations are for making this step forward, not all are actually achieving the desired results.
One of the major criticisms of the position is that, to truly promote workplace diversity, the leading managers or executives in the organization need to be held accountable. This responsibility oftentimes falls on the Chief Diversity Officer, who is effectively the scapegoat for any and all diversity initiatives taken by the organisation. Not to mention, this role is often given out of tokenism without any real authority or backing- leading to frustration and burnout.
Furthermore, some organisations tend to create the role of Chief Diversity Officer merely to keep up with the trend of diversity and not necessarily to bring about genuine change. This is evident when the placement and funding of the position is hardly equal to those of the other executives in the company. It suggests that the position and its agenda are not as important or taken seriously as the other roles in the company.
Another criticism of the CDO role is that often individuals filling the role are limited to handling employee complaints around discrimination or exclusion and fail to actually create and foster an inclusive culture within the organization- which is the true aim of diversity and inclusion strategies. Without a clear goal and the right tools and resources, the role usually amounts to nothing and has a limited lifespan in the organization.
All this being said, the Chief Diversity Officer position holds great potential to create real change in the corporate world when implemented strategically and effectively. Perhaps, the key here is to go beyond the photocopied “we are committed to diversity” statements and actually focus on creating an environment that encourages diverse opinions and ideas- and holding other executives (at the same level) accountable.