As we all know, diversity and inclusion has been a point of emphasis for some time now. In fact, the number of roles assigned to chief diversity officers has seen unprecedented growth in recent days. It is important to pay attention to how these topics are addressed by various organizations, whether it be under talent management, HR, or corporate social responsibility, and ponder the implications it carries.
When we think about diversity and inclusion, and we think about how to really move this function forward? We always talk about top-down, meaning how are CEOs brought into this? How are they leading, whether it’s on a diversity council, or through just discussions? How are their teams leading, and how does it spread through the organization?
If the top-down approach is the direction that you want for your organization, then your diversity and inclusion officer has to report to the CEO. I can’t be any more straightforward. If you’re the CEO and DEI is that important to you, then the DEI officer needs to report to you. They need to have a direct line of sight, so they can not only have conversations with you as a CEO but also have a seat at the table to influence decision-making. Because diversity and inclusion should be horizontal across the organization.
Diversity and inclusion should not only be an HR. It should not only be in how we engage employees. It should also be in technology, and how are we looking at the tools and systems that we’re building. We need to ask questions with an inclusive mindset. For example, How do we make sure that we’re designing products, by diverse people, for diverse people? With a lot of AI technology emerging, DEI officers need to be able to have conversations with the leadership team and technology.
Bringing them to the table gives them the influence and respect they need to make an impact. Further, connecting this initiative to the highest level sends a firm message throughout the organization that inclusive practices are essential and on par with finance, HR, engineering, marketing, and sales. It’s important to show that DEI leadership occupies a seat at the CEO’s table to demonstrate support for these efforts at the top.