2023 Top 50: The State of the Chief Diversity Officer

The past few years have been transformative for Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs). While some have moved on from their roles, others are focused on what comes next in the face of the new conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In addition to facing external obstacles like the economy, internal challenges like securing buy-in from leadership can also present roadblocks.   

Fair360, formerly DiversityInc, tackled the topic in the panel “The State of the Chief Diversity Officer” at the 2023 Top 50 event “The Link Between Leadership Accountability and Data Standardization.” 

While budgets and DEI positions are being cut, companies that are focused on workplace fairness will remain steadfast in their commitment, said Adrienne Trimble, Vice President and Chief Diversity and Culture Officer for Sysco Corporation (No. 17 on the Fair360 2023 Top Companies for Talent Acquisition for Women of Color). 

“When you make it a strategic part of the business strategy, you can’t just pull it out because it’s so embedded into how you show up in the things you actually do,” she said.  

Wanda Hope, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for Johnson & Johnson (a Hall of Fame Company), said aligned thinking and strategy at all levels of an organization is essential to advancing DEI.  

“When we do that, we can lift the entire organization and drive greater progress,” she said.  

When asked how she navigates DEI’s challenges, including increased political rhetoric and staff reductions, Alicia Petross, Chief Diversity Officer for The Hershey Company (No. 3 on the Fair360 2023 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) said it all comes back to commitment.  

“Certainly there are challenges out there,” she said. “We know that our business is stronger and healthier. We know that our colleagues grow the more diverse and inclusive we are. It’s great for our bottom line. It’s great for employees and also helps fuel the communities where we operate.” 

Click here for more articles, videos and photos from the 2023 Top 50 event.