The average turnover for chief diversity officers is three years versus five years for chief financial officers. And, as many chief diversity officers are likely people of color, this could represent a wasted opportunity for firms that stress the importance of diverse leadership.
“Without the resources to fulfill their goals and too often siloed away from the company’s business strategy, diversity leaders often hit a dead end,” Denise Hamilton, CEO and founder of WatchHerWork, writes for Crain’s Chicago Business. “I’ve worked with some who’ve been blamed for the company’s failures to achieve D&I goals, and others who find the job so stressful they end up leaving the company.”
Chief diversity officers lose the opportunity to take on different c-suite roles due to their shorter tenures. Studies also have shown that company boards don’t look to human resources leaders as potential CEO candidates and diversity and inclusion often sits within HR. To change this, businesses need to take steps to ensure D&I leaders are given serious consideration for CEO and top leadership roles. One way to do this is to “ensure that D&I is central to the overall business strategy,” Hamilton writes.
“To help make this happen, some companies have the CDO report directly to the CEO and board chairman rather than to the CHRO,” she notes.