GUIDE 2024

What Does a Chief Diversity Officer Do?

The chief diversity officer (CDO) is an executive who devises and implements diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within a corporation. The purpose is to encourage diversity and inclusion as core values and components of the organization’s culture.

Let’s find out how it is achieved and what a chief diversity officer does to meet organizational and individual objectives.

To learn more via video, watch below or skip ahead to continue reading.

Chief Diversity Officer Role

A chief diversity officer is the first and foremost architect of a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. This C-level exec creates DEI strategies to ensure diverse hiring and advancement at the organization and diversity training programs for employees. Additionally, they execute fair-pay practices and scan results to measure progress. The aspiring goal of this role is to provide an equitable work environment for all employees.

Executive diversity and inclusion jobs have increased by 113% since 2015, according to the data from ZoomInfo. Chief diversity officers work in various sectors such as NGOs, private-sector companies, and educational institutions and report to the Chief Executive Officer. 

Chief diversity officer pay differs as per experience and location, but people in this position earn more than the national average salaries. The median annual salary is $126,000. At the same time, the top 10% annual salary is $206,000.

A chief diversity officer is a focal person for diversity and inclusion initiatives at the company. They are responsible for devising, handling, and optimizing all efforts related to making the workplace a fairer, more-equitable environment for all employees. In addition, they must be able to examine the results of existing programs, suggest edits, and operate as a consultant on DEI issues for the rest of the executive team.

Chief Diversity Officer’s Responsibilities

There are seven roles that a chief diversity officer has to accomplish during their career run in any company. These include: 

  1. Creating diversity materials
  2. Confronting problematic behavior
  3. Hiring practices
  4. Cultural competencies
  5. Leadership
  6. Diversity goals benchmark
  7. Cross department collaboration

Let’s explore these roles and their responsibilities:

1. Creating Diversity Materials 

Address inequities and foster inclusivity through active diversity programs for staff. CDOs can design these training programs themselves or use partnerships with other qualified organizations to get their employees up to speed on appropriate DEI behaviors and practices.

2. Confronting Problematic Behavior

Beyond setting broad strategic initiatives, chief diversity officers need to solve specific problems related to DEI. For example, perhaps one coworker is actively denigrating another because they come from a different socioeconomic background. Maybe a talent management official is unaware of their racial insensitivity.

Chief diversity officer skillsProblem-solving in these scenarios needs to be efficient and effective, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable workplace on a holistic level.

3. Hiring Practices

When it comes to retention and talent acquisition, CDOs work to ensure job postings entice people of all demographics. Maintaining a diverse workforce is a good staffing practice and creates a more inclusive environment.

4. Cultural Competencies 

CDOs must address diversity and inclusion head-on to build an organizational culture that works for all stakeholders—staff, executives, the board of directors, etc. This means ensuring everyone is sensitive to DEI goals and working to foster a welcoming environment.

5. Leadership

As senior leaders, CDOs must hire and maintain a team of diversity, equity, and inclusion officers. Doing so can delegate certain inclusion initiatives to their team members as part of their overall leadership role. Mentoring these professionals also helps create the next generation of chief diversity officers.

6. Diversity Goals Benchmark

Companies require professional help to know where to begin regarding diversity issues or equity and inclusion strategies. CDOs help set strategic goals and metrics so companies can tell how well they’re doing at following through on their diversity initiatives.

7. Cross-DepartmentChief diversity officer responsibilities Collaboration

Working with other senior leadership team members is a key part of the chief diversity officer job description. In addition, you need to help change management practices to make them more inclusive and welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

Inclusion management strategies include training sessions for executives and employees, facilitating roundtable discussions, and more.

Chief Diversity Officer Qualifications

Education and training requirements in this ever-growing field will continue to grow and evolve. While employers differ as to which qualifications they need and value the most, your academic background, certifications, mentorship, and experience can improve your ability to compete with other candidates in the field. 

These include:

A master’s degree

While some employers are satisfied with a bachelor’s degree, others prefer candidates with a master’s in business administration or a similar field.


Many universities, such as Cornell, as well as consulting companies, have created various diversity and inclusion certifications. These programs help executives learn how to construct more effective DEI initiatives in their organizations.

On-the-job experience

Perhaps the most significant training for this position takes place on the field. Therefore, employers seeking CDOs prefer candidates with years of experience designing and implementing DEI programs.

Communication skills

CDOs need to be expert communicators. Their primary task is to help companies navigate some of the most sensitive and personal issues imaginable. In addition, they must be able to develop a thoughtful and effective strategic plan for DEI initiatives and communicate why it is necessary to each individual at the company.


If you plan to be a chief diversity officer, you must have a long track record of demonstrating empathy in your personal and professional lives. You need to be a sensitive and understanding person, as well as someone eager to hear from people of different ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and so on about their unique life experiences inside and outside of work. Your job is one of advocacy: lobbying for a work environment in which many people and personalities of all sorts can thrive.

Chief Diversity Officer Skills

These are the top chief diversity officer skills required in job listings and resumes:

  • Strategic planning: The most significant aspect of this job is creating and implementing strategic endeavors that sustain diversity and inclusion.
  • Problem-solving: Chief diversity officers need to come up with resourceful resolutions to challenges, whether it is getting executives on board with salary clarity or making old Human Resources systems support the latest initiatives.
  • Consensus building: DEI officers need support from the entire executive team as well as employees at every single level.
  • Knowledge of policies: Changing laws and regulations affect DEI plans. Hence, staying up to date on occurring legislation is essential.

Best Tips for New Chief Diversity Officers

The following tips will help you start your career as a Chief Diversity Officer:

Enable Employee Resource Groups

Employee resource groups (ERGs) have attracted significant interest in the last ten years as organizations broaden their scope of DEI efforts.

Here are some strategies for empowering ERGs in your business:

  • Create a plan: Detail an easy-to-follow guide for employees interested in initiating an Employee Resource Group. This ensures process continuity across the institution. Make the sign-up process painless. You must have easily accessible digital resources such as creating ERGs, mission and charter guidelines, operating procedures, and purpose statements.
  • Provide monetary support: As a director and manager, allocate some of your budgets to support ERG affairs and initiatives. Choose an equitable way to allocate the funds and create a clear method for fund requests. ERGs are worthy investments in the well-being of workers and the organization.
  • Help with documentation: Assist the employees who lead the ERGs in documenting and tracking their growth and progress. Provide systems for organizing membership and reports in order to calculate the impact in the workplace. Retain records of the mission and the charter and house them within Human Resources.
  • Get executive sponsorship: executive-level sponsorship for ERGs is extremely important. Executives serve and advocate as liaisons between the ERG and the company’s decision-makers. They can provide support for new endeavors and increase visibility.
  • Promote: When ERGs have workshops or events, promote them to your employees. Offer room for meetings and other resources that are needed. Volunteer your own resources and time to support training and other volunteer opportunities.

Get Acquainted with the Organization

If you have joined as a new company’s Chief Diversity Officer, you must familiarize yourself with the system. This includes talking to all departments, including HR, operations, workforce plans, processes, and employees. The more you know about the company and how it works, the better. 

Meet the People

The role involves dealing and interacting with everyone in the company, whether they are managers or employees.

A chief diversity officer must interact with the employees to understand their needs and challenges. This also helps the CDO develop relevant ERG and DEI programs that address employee challenges.

This will help you analyze the demographics of the workforce at the same time.

Conduct a Diversity Audit

A diversity audit of the company’s current policies and practices for recruiting, hiring, training, compensation, and promotion will help gauge its strengths and challenges. 

This can help assess employees’ practices and perceptions of inclusion and tolerance.

Setting Key Performance Indicators

Identify the company’s quantifiable, measurable diversity KPIs and try to achieve the set goals. For example, equalize the pay between male, female and non-binary employees of the same tenure, level, and performance within a proposed three months.

Using Evidence-based Methods

Identify and remove potential biases in recruiting and hiring that can be ignoring, turning off, or accidentally discriminating against qualified, diverse candidates and measure the impact before and after. Using evidence-based methods, identify and equalize gaps in training, compensation, and promotion opportunities and measure the impact before and after.


The importance of chief diversity officers cannot be overstated. While it is a lot of responsibility, today’s chief diversity officer is a change catalyst tasked with building diverse and equitable workplaces. Once you get used to the work, you will be passionate about the work you do.