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2020 Priorities for Chief Diversity Officers

While the strategic priorities for the members of i4cp’s Chief Diversity Officer Board are varied, the goal of promoting and developing inclusive leadership is clearly a shared objective for the year ahead.

Almost all respondents to our recent Board Priorities Survey mentioned initiatives planned for 2020 related to building out the capabilities of inclusive leaders and/or developing the pipeline of inclusive leaders. Several specifically mentioned imbedding practices related to inclusive leadership into succession management, recruiting, talent management, performance management, and reward processes, with an end goal of measurable leadership behavior changes.

Other top priorities—which will be used to help guide i4cp research and Chief Diversity Officer Board meeting agendas in the coming year—include:

  • Bias audits of systems (including use of AI), policies, and practices
    Bias has an insidious way of creeping into business practices, but more often biases are legacies that have never been questioned or addressed. Auditing job descriptions/requirements, career paths, selection processes, and the like are crucial for acquiring, retaining, and promoting diverse talent, and are a top priority of over half of our Chief Diversity Officer Board respondents. This is an ongoing initiative for many, but one critical to building a truly inclusive culture. It’s also an ideal way to engage with and leverage employee resource group (ERG/BRG) members, who can bring invaluable perspective to the process. One member is specifically focused on addressing biases in AI algorithms used (or preparing to be rolled out) at their organization.
  • Creating, growing, and communicating an inclusive culture
    For most members of the Chief Diversity Officer Board, inclusive culture initiatives go hand-in-hand with their inclusive leadership development priority. According to i4cp’s research into Culture Renovation™ “With clarity of what the desired new culture will (and will not) be, the next point of focus is to define the new behaviors that all leaders—from senior executives to middle managers and front-line managers—need to embody and model (as well as avoid) to support the culture.” 

Several Chief Diversity Officer Board members specifically cited the need to better define what an inclusive culture looks like at their organization, including assurances to all employees that inclusion efforts on behalf of some are intended to make a workplace where all can thrive. As in previous years, much of this work is linked to developing clear metrics around inclusion.

  • Diverse talent attraction, development, and retention that enhances both employer and market brand
    These are perennial priorities, and many Chief Diversity Officer Board members tie making a positive impact on their other priorities above to success in building diverse representation. Inclusive cultures, leaders, and practices are all part of the employer brand they are seeking to cultivate and can be major attractors for all top talent—not just those from underrepresented groups. Several also list market relevance as a driver for more diverse workforces, as changing demographics impact both the workplace and marketplace. Keeping brands aligned to the market is crucial for future growth, and our CDOs are well aware of how their internal brand initiatives can impact the way their organizations are viewed in the external market. Many CDOs cited the goal of ensuring divers representation globally, which creates its own set of challenges and necessitates local market expertise.

2020 will be a busy year for the members of i4cp’s Chief Diversity Officer Board, as several say they have increasing requests from other senior leaders to weigh-in on a broad array of overarching organizational initiatives.

This increases their ability to influence and provide D&I perspective to key decisions at inception, making them more able to impact long-term success. Almost half of our Chief Diversity Officer board members cited the need to increase the impact of their organization’s diversity as a differentiator in the marketplace and a way to ensure a healthy future bottom line.

Eric Davis
Eric received his master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Marshall University in 1996. He has had 20+ years of workforce experience in a variety of fields. Before coming to i4cp, he worked as a laboratory technician for DuPont, a conference planner for Marshall University, the public relations manager for the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Technical Manufacturing, and a graphic designer for COX Communications.