The Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Chief Equity Officer or Chief Human Resources Officer are executive leaders tasked with overseeing fairness efforts in the pursuit of inclusion for all employees. Unfortunately, for some companies, the declining prevalence of those positions, decrease in scope of responsibilities, disconnects between the CDO and the rest of the executive team, as well as a lack of essential financial resources can make their roles difficult.
Are CDO Roles Disappearing?
Despite a surge in CDO and related DEI positions beginning in 2020, the role of senior executives in workplace fairness has decreased over the last year per Fair360’s data. Across all surveyed companies, the number of full-time employees with some level of diversity responsibilities and the number of senior-level managers with formal DEI responsibilities fell from 2022 to 2023. However, according to Dr. Lex Smith Washington, Assistant Professor in the Management Department at Oklahoma State University and member of The PhD Project, the work started by CDOs in 2020 is still alive and well at many organizations.
“If we look at the 2017 or 2018 data and compare it to 2023, we are still on an upward trajectory in terms of the activities, spending and strategizing [for workplace fairness],” Washington said. “When we zoom so close into a very small window of years, we’re missing the fact that, in most parts of the country, half of the major corporations that have headquarters or facilities on site have DEI programming as a corporate strategy.”