Chief diversity officers see high demand — and turnover

As pressure mounts for companies to address racial inequities within their organizations, chief diversity officers are in high demand. However, the CDO role has been marred with high turnover as many leaders grapple with a lack of resources and not enough support from senior executives, according to The Wall Street Journal

The average tenure of a CDO is three years, according to recruiters interviewed by the Journal. The recruiters said they've seen a surge in CDO inquiries in recent weeks, and many CDOs have moved from their current role to another for more compensation and influence. 

CDOs lead several tasks across multiple categories of diversity, like race, sexual orientation and gender. They often work on creating more equitable hiring and give their input on product decisions. 

However, many CDOs interviewed by the Journal found that too often, corporate promises don't accurately represent their duties. Many hear too much talk and don't see enough action, and struggle to persuade other executives to prioritize diversity.

How influential a CDO role is can be affected by who the executive reports to, according to the Journal. Reporting to the CEO brings the broadest influence, while reporting to the general counsel may mean a CDO is focused more on compliance issues, and reporting to a human resources chief may mean the job is more about recruiting. 

Gerri Mason Hall, the chief diversity and social responsibility officer for the Americas at the food service company Sodexo, told the Journal that organizations see the most success when they treat diversity goals as they would other business priorities that drive revenue. "What is the company trying to accomplish?" she said. "Is it really you just want to put on a show?"

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