Find out if your company should consider someone else for the position
Diversity and inclusion initiatives can fail for a number of reasons. Companies may struggle to measure progress, for example, if they haven’t set specific goals.
Findings from a survey conducted by XpertHR involving 600 employers found diversity initiatives can also falter if an organization doesn’t have the right person in charge of the effort.
Although a limited number — 14 percent — of organizations, according to PwC research, don’t have a designated diversity leader, most understand someone needs to be responsible for overseeing and enacting diversity and inclusion program elements.
The person, or people, who fulfill that role, however, can vary from business to business — and may include:
The human resource department, more than any other group or individual, is responsible for diversity and inclusion in the workplace; at 59 percent of organizations, HR oversees diversity efforts, and at 64 percent, it’s tasked with implementing diversity initiatives, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey.
The president/CEO is responsible for diversity outcomes at 25 percent of companies, according to a 2017 Deloitte report. Other research suggests leadership members can help provide positive results. Having a C-suite member be the diversity and inclusion program leader, as opposed to, for instance, the compliance department, is one of the biggest differentiators between organizations where diversity isn’t considered a barrier to progression and ones where it is, according to PwC’s data.
To be a successful diversity champion, however, CEOs need to be fully engaged. If time and other responsibilities that accompany their job make that difficult, companies may want to consider having their CEO remain heavily involved in diversity efforts — but instead appointing another individual (or individuals) who are more able to focus on the work and as a result, bring about more change.
A dedicated diversity officer
Membership-based advisory group Diversity Best Practices recommends a diversity and inclusion initiative structure that places the diversity officer between the board, CEO and other C-suite members; an executive diversity council that develops, reviews and measures broad diversity and inclusion goals — and other groups involved in the initiative, such as network and affinity groups and diversity councils.
Diversity councils can be potentially responsible for overall management and other functions; network and affinity groups, which may include an internal employee group or an external advisory board, can also be part of the tier that supports a diversity officer.
Not all companies have the resources to support a full-time diversity role. In fact, the larger the employer, the more likely it is to have dedicated diversity staff, according to Xpert HR. However, as SHRM notes, smaller organizations may be able to aid diversity and inclusion programs by taking a cue from the 17 percent of employers who have an advisory group/committee comprised of volunteer staff members.
Research suggests it can be an effective approach. Employee sponsorship is one of three elements that correspond with lower levels of reported bias within an organization, according to Center for Talent Innovation research.
Once your organization has the right person in place, frequent assessments and adjustments can help ensure diversity efforts are successful.
You may find a few helpful suggestions in our blog posts on what the most diverse companies are getting right, the top 5 elements your diversity program should include, employee diversity networks that are inspiring change, 4 ways companies are increasing gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace and how to prevent your diversity initiative from faltering.
For additional information, download our diversity case studies and our white paper on how to establish the most effective diversity and inclusion initiative at your organization.