Diversity Officer in the workplace: The Future of Inclusive Diversity

Posted by Flux on 

10 December 2019

What’s trending now?
There is an increase in companies creating positions specifically to promote diversity and inclusivity. In this context, diversity means the range of human differences, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and physical ability. Business leaders have recognised the importance of this, with job titles such as director of diversity & inclusivity, diversity director and head of diversity becoming part of the everyday language of business.

Why is it important?
A number of businesses have come under scrutiny by social movements and in social media over racially insensitive marketing campaigns. Pepsi, H&M and Dove are among them. As a result, business leaders are looking for ways to assist their teams to be aware of people’s differences and experiences.

This is where a diversity and inclusivity director comes in. The new C-suite executive provides expertise to help cultivate a work culture where everyone feels accepted and respected. They assist with recruitment, retention of staff and employee engagement. As of August 2019, almost 50% of S&P 500 companies had a chief diversity officer or equivalent, nearly two thirds of whom were appointed in the past three years.

According to the recruitment website Indeed job postings for diversity and inclusion positions have increased by 31%, to 113 per million since Donald Trump’s election, from 87 per million postings a year earlier. While providing no concrete reasons for this, the website hazards a guess that diversity has moved up the agenda for many Americans in the face of a partisan presidency.

What’s the Butterfly Effect?

A 2018 study by Diversity Council Australia indicates that inclusive teams are ten times more productive than their non-inclusive counter parts. In its 2020 survey Californian company, Glassdoor Recruiting states that numerous studies indicate that workplace culture plays a large role in company success, financially and in terms of attracting talent and pleasing customers. According to Glassdoor, top CEOs in the US are starting to recognise that shareholders are no longer the be-all and end-all and that companies need to focus on employees, as well as customers, suppliers and the communities in which they operate. Diversity would have a large role to play here.

Glassdoor Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain puts it like this:

“In 2020, we expect this changing tide of CEO opinion to usher in a new wave of culture-first thinking among business leaders, elevating employee engagement to the status of core business focus for a growing number of companies.”

The Pioneers
Some brands have had to learn the hard way about the importance of having a diverse team when communicating with their audience. In 2019 Prada launched its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council . The council is co-chaired by Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates who urged the company to heed the voices of colour within the company. Fashion brands Gucci and Chanel have also appointed a Head of Diversity and Inclusion as a means to ‘beef up resources’ devoted to cultivating an inclusive work environment.

In 2018 Uber hired their first Chief of Diversity and Inclusion after many claims of sexual harassment.

Global Hotspot
USA and Europe

By Khumo Theko

About Khumo

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Image credit: Christina Morillo

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