Why The Head Of Diversity Is The Job Of The Moment?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Apparently, the job of the moment is not software developer, fashion designer, or even an Amazon delivery driver. It is in fact, a job for which no one can agree on the exact ideal candidate, best practices, core responsibilities, or even the actual name of the role.

However, there is a growing consensus that this position — whether you call it Head of Diversity and Inclusion or Chief Diversity 0fficer or Diversity Director — will be critical to an organization’s ability to grow, innovate, and compete for talent in the future.

Long before the worldwide call for racial justice and impassioned protests that came in the wake of the fatal attacks on Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, organizations had increasingly sought leadership for their nascent diversity and inclusion efforts.

Head of Diversity Positions Doubled

According to LinkedIn data, the number of people globally with the head of diversity title more than doubled (107% growth) over the last five years. The number with the director of diversity title grew 75% and chief diversity officer, 68%.

For many organizations, the global outcry in the past two years over systemic racism, has intensified their focus on D&I, making diversity and inclusion as much a moral imperative as a business priority.

Getting it right will not be about checking a box; but it will be about thinking outside the box.

“This isn’t the same as a sales target,” says Damien Hooper-Campbell, the new chief diversity officer at Zoom Video Communications. “This isn’t the same as rolling out a new product feature. We’re dealing with human beings and we’re dealing with some stuff here that people have a hard time talking about — especially at work.”

Some have labelled Chief Diversity Officer as the toughest job in business.

To understand the soaring interest in this position and the challenges for those who hold it, let’s look at how the role has evolved, who the people are who hold it, what their teams have done to move their organizations forward, what they need to flourish, and what the future holds for them.

UK Employs Twice as Many D&I Workers than any other Country.

The interest in diversity — gender, racial and ethnic, LGBTQ+, age, and ability, among other dimensions — and inclusion has touched nearly every corner of the world. Given all the headlines coming out of the United States in the late spring and early summer, it may surprise you to learn that the United Kingdom employs almost twice as many D&I workers (per 10,000 employees) as any other country. Australia, the U.S., Ireland, and Canada round out the top five.

LinkedIn data shows that the No. 1 D&I job title globally is diversity manager, with director of diversity coming in at No. 2, head of diversity at No. 4, and chief diversity officer at No. 6.

To understand what companies, hope their growing D&I teams will accomplish, it helps to look at how the diversity function has evolved.

In many cases, companies originally named a head of diversity in the aftermath of a discrimination lawsuit, to make sure companies hired and promoted people in a fair manner that also followed applicable law.

Over time, mounting research began pointing to the benefits — increased sales, revenue, stock price — of having a more diverse workforce.

The facts back up this shift. “We did this research at Deloitte many times,” Josh Bersin says, “and found that the diverse teams are more innovative. They feel more creative. People feel safer in a team that is diverse. People speak up more. And that includes generational diversity, not just racial and national diversity.”

As a bonus, LinkedIn data shows a positive difference in the brand perception of companies with a diversity and inclusion function versus companies without one.