By Alexandra Zatarain
Diversity is a business function, and many organizations are taking actions towards integrating diversity initiatives to business operations. They have understood the importance of the diversity and inclusion role as a function that must operate as business if it wants to be respected and attended.
The Conference Board Diversity and Inclusion Councils state that “to be integrated into business functions, D&I executives must not only align themselves and their function with corporate strategy, they must also strive to influence that strategy. “
As companies are paying more attention to diversity initiatives as a business imperative, they are also creating specific executive roles to make sure business aligns with D&I objectives and vice versa. Roles such as Chief Diversity Officer have surfaced as crucial parts of the organization.
The question now is, what is required in a Chief Diversity Office? The Conference Board Diversity and Inclusion Councils highlights the following as characteristics desired in a D&I executive:
- Persistence and passion
- Ability to redirect change
- Persistence to move away from measuring their worth by “activity”
- A mind set on strategy and impact
- Look at diversity and inclusion in a vastly different way
- Stop focusing on “how busy you can be” and “making lists,” and instead place the focus on D&I’s impact on the business in short and long terms
- Champion the case for diversity starting with the needs of the company
- Ability to meet the company’s needs down to the business unit level
- Act as solutions providers
- Ability to help company think more broadly when entering new markets, building high-functioning global teams
- Clearly formulate and state publicly the value of D&I
- Clarify the definition of diversity and inclusion within the organization
- Learn about the business from the perspective of the managers they hope to convert
- Have an enhanced understanding of the entire organization
- Communicate their plans and define what winning means for the business in practical terms
Diversity and Inclusion executives must constantly challenge the perspectives of others inside and outside the organization. They are the champion drivers of diversity, leaders that must be willing to subject themselves and their initiatives to rigorous analysis.
A specific rigid profile must be hard to define, but certain elements must be present to succeed as a D&I executive. And the most important of these elements is that as a D&I champion “you simply cannot simply stand by when you see things that are not inclusive or see people making decisions that are counter to the values of your corporation.”
Diversity and Inclusion executives are here to challenge everyone’s perspectives.