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Diversity & Inclusion Executives Explain Challenges and Success In Weber Shandwick Survey

Veleisa Burrell


As diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become an increasingly visible and much-discussed topic of business, companies have begun to bring in professionals whose primary focus is centered on creating a more inclusive environment. According to Indeed, diversity and inclusion job postings, as a share of all job postings, were up 18% from the previous year in Feb. 2018 and 25% from levels two years past.


Study Reveals Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Landscape

More recently, the teams at Weber Shandwick, a global communications and marketing solutions firm, and management consultancy United Minds partnered with KRC Research to learn more about those who lead the growing D&I function at companies: Chief Diversity Officers (CDO). With responsibility for shifting culture and a reporting line directly to executive team and board of directors, the CDO is a key player in implementing change within a company. Weber Shandwick and United Minds surveyed 500 senior level diversity and inclusion professionals, including 168 CDOs, and the resulting report, Chief Diversity Officers Today: Paving the Way for Diversity & Inclusion Success, focuses on the work of a CDO and the challenges they face as well as best practices of the D&I function that align with business strategy.


Tips on D&I from CDO Survey

Below are some takeaways that can help D&I professionals and advocates in their own workplaces.


  1. 74 percent of CDOs are internal hires, promotions or transfers and 77 percent of their time in a previous role was dedicated to D&I. These numbers demonstrate that building a brand known for diversity and inclusion advocacy can often lead to future elevated roles and responsibilities.
  2. 55 percent of CDOs have global oversight, which requires those who aspire to this role to gain insight beyond their own borders. While some education may be offered on the job, you can always be on the lookout for additional self-guided learning and look for opportunities to share your knowledge with your team members.
  3. The skills that survey respondents said are most important for success as a D&I leader: human resources, extensive D&I background, local community work or activities, global work, senior-level leadership, and technology or digital.
  4. Two biggest challenges faced by D&I professionals: making the business case for diversity and inclusion and making diversity and inclusion values or outcomes visible externally. Also, diversity and inclusion fatigue is listed as the number 3 challenge standing in the way of company D&I goals.
  5. The report estimates that 13 percent of a company’s resignations are partly due to dissatisfaction with D&I. Taking into account the number of overall resignations in the month of February 2019 and the average cost of losing one worker, Weber Shandwick estimates that the total cost to U.S. businesses for losing employees due to dissatisfaction with D&I efforts is almost $6.8 billion. If this isn’t a business case, what else can more clearly show the impact of insufficient diversity and inclusion policies?

The full report has additional insights, including a list of activities and behaviors that separate companies with well-aligned diversity and inclusion functions apart from others.

    Racial Equity/Diversity

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