How to Hire a Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer - Glassdoor for Employers

How to Hire a Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer

A Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer is fundamental to the success of a diversity and inclusion initiative within your organization. The defining role of a Chief Diversity Officer or Head of Diversity is to lead the charge in creating a vision of an equitable and inclusive future and will be held accountable for creating a culture of belonging at a company. 

The process of hiring a Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer

  • Why. Before hiring, consider why you want to hire someone into the role, and why now. Key stakeholders should be clear, transparent and honest about the motivation and drive behind hiring for this role, as well as the intention and goals for this position. 
  • Who. Before you begin interviewing, be sure to identify a diverse interview panel or committee, including individuals from different departments in your organization, with various cultural backgrounds and life experiences. 
  • Where. During the hiring process, be sure to leverage the talents of people within diverse organizations, such as professional membership organizations and search firms.
  • How. How you hire is almost as important as who you hire. It is critical in recruiting for this role that the hiring process is as unbiased and equitable as possible. 

Job requirements of a Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer

A qualified candidate for the role of Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer should have a background in creating or fostering systemic change. They should also have demonstrated success in influencing leaders and teams and developing metrics to track success.

[Related: How to Build a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program]

The seniority of the position depends on the scope of the role, resources, and the size and scale of the organization. At a large company or Fortune 500 company, the Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer should be an executive, C-Suite level position at the Vice President or Senior Vice President level, reporting directly to the CEO. At small- to mid-level organizations and startups, the role may not be as senior, but it should have proportionate, meaningful authority. In both cases, it is important that the Head of Diversity has decision-making authority, resources (a team and budget/funding), executive support and a broad scope of influence across the organization. 

Competencies to consider when hiring a Head of Diversity or Chief Diversity Officer

  • Strategic thinking
    Candidates should have a strategic mindset and the ability to think in both the short- and long-term and in terms of scalability and sustainability. D&I work is a marathon, not a sprint. Candidates therefore must be able to assess and analyze systems, processes and procedures, and identify solutions for implementing positive and meaningful change. 
  • Change management
    Candidates should have a track record of managing large-scale change efforts in an organizational setting. At the core of successful, effective diversity and inclusion efforts is change. 
  • Emotional intelligence
    The facets of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. At the core of all these concepts is empathy. In order to create programs that are inclusive and create a sense of belonging, candidates  need to deeply understand the lived experiences of others. 
  • Cultural intelligence
    The capability to communicate and work effectively across cultures is necessary in this world of global commerce and communication. 
  • Relationship building
    The ability to connect with others and form positive relationships will ensure the candidate will have the right partners onboard to implement change. 
  • Influence
    The ability to persuade, generate buy-in, and inspire will set up your new Head of Diversity for success.

Your people - especially those from underrepresented groups - will remember how you supported them as individuals in the context of their culture. To get involved in the conversation around diversity & inclusion on Glassdoor and start managing and promoting your employer brand reputation, unlock your Free Employer Profile today.