A chief diversity officer is the principal architect of a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. This C-level executive creates DEI strategies to ensure diverse hiring and promotion at the organization, as well as diversity training programs for employees. They implement fair-pay practices and monitor results to measure progress. The ultimate goal of this role is to ensure an equitable work environment for all employees.
Chief diversity officer is a relatively new position, but it’s gaining traction as companies seek to create more diverse, inclusive workforces. Executive diversity and inclusion job titles have increased 113% since 2015, according to data from B2B intelligence platform ZoomInfo. Nearly 40% of Fortune 500 companies now have executives dedicated to DEI.
Often reporting to the president of the organization, chief diversity officers work at private-sector companies, government agencies, and educational institutions. Learn more about this essential role and how to take it on.
Chief Diversity Officer Duties and Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:
- Create and manage DEI programs, including those related to hiring, promotion, pay equity, employee coaching, and more
- Analyze results of DEI initiatives to measure progress and suggest improvements
- Hire managers to implement programs, collect and analyze data, and support employees
- Manage budgets and prepare them for approval from the rest of the executive team
- Stay on top of trends, laws, and regulations, and other factors influencing DEI programs
- Advise executive team on matters related to diversity and inclusion
- Represent the organization at industry events and meetings
A chief diversity officer is the point person for diversity and inclusion initiatives at their company. This means they are responsible for creating, managing, and optimizing all efforts related to making the workplace a fairer, more-equitable environment for all employees. They must be able to analyze the results of existing programs, suggest improvements, and act as an advisor on DEI issues for the rest of the executive team.
Chief Diversity Officer Salary
Chief diversity officer pay varies by location and experience level, but people in this position tend to earn more than the national average.
- Median annual salary: $126,000
- Top 10% annual salary: $206,000
- Bottom 10% annual salary: $70,000
Many employers prefer candidates with advanced degrees such as a master’s degree with a focus on business administration or human resources. Factor in the cost of higher education when you chart this career path.
Education, Training, and Certification
Education and training requirements in this growing field will no doubt continue to evolve. While employers will differ as to which qualifications they value the most, some educational backgrounds, certifications, and experience can improve your ability to compete with other candidates in the field. These include:
- A master’s degree: Although some employers are satisfied with a bachelor’s degree, others give preference to candidates with a master’s in business administration or human resources.
- Certifications: Universities such as Cornell and consulting companies such as Diversity Training University International have created diversity and inclusion certification programs. These programs help executives learn how to create more effective DEI initiatives at their organizations.
- On-the-job experience: Perhaps the most valuable training for this position takes place on the job. Employers seeking chief diversity officers often prefer candidates who have several years of experience designing and implementing DEI programs.
Skills and Competencies
These chief diversity officer skills can be found frequently in job listings, on resumes, and in cover letters:
- Strategic planning: The most important aspect of this job is developing and implementing strategic initiatives that support diversity and inclusion.
- Problem-solving: Chief diversity officers must be able to come up with innovative solutions to challenges, whether it’s getting executives on board with salary transparency, or making old HR systems support new initiatives.
- Consensus building: DEI officers need buy-in from the rest of the executive team as well as employees at every level.
- Knowledge of public policy: Changing laws and regulations affect DEI plans in real-time. Staying up to date on emerging legislation is essential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for top executives such as chief diversity officers is expected to remain solid for the next decade. The BLS projects 8% growth in these jobs between 2020 and 2030—about as fast as the average for all occupations.
However, if recent demand is any indication, chief diversity officers may have a stronger occupational outlook than that data would suggest. Glassdoor’s research shows that diversity and inclusion job titles rebounded faster from the 2020 economic crisis than other human resources jobs or occupations as a whole.
Chief diversity officers typically work in an office environment. They may have a private office, a cubicle, or work in an open-plan office. Depending on company policy, they may work on-site or remotely.
Most chief diversity officers work full-time during regular office hours. This job can be high- stress and require long hours. Top executives often work weekends and evenings as needed.
Comparing Similar Jobs
If you’re interested in a chief diversity officer job, consider related career paths. Here’s a list of similar jobs:
- Chief people officer
- Chief diversity executive
- Vice president of diversity
- Diversity manager
- HR manager
How To Get the Job
There are some ways to increase the chances of getting the job you want.
Look for chief diversity officer job listings on specialty job sites for executives such as The Ladders, general job sites such as Indeed, and professional social networks such as LinkedIn.
Come prepared to discuss your success at developing and managing DEI programs as well as to answer questions about your management style, past challenges, and goals.
Resumes and Cover Letters
Focus on keywords that demonstrate your experience and qualifications. Be sure to quantify your results implementing diversity programs, especially those that demonstrate improvements in employee retention and engagement.