By 2045, people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population.
That demographic shift, predicted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one reason why companies are starting to take workplace diversity, inclusion and equity more seriously.
In corporate America, this has manifested in part through the proliferation of chief diversity officers, who are charged with creating policies and climates supportive of workers from an array of backgrounds.
As of 2012, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies had diversity executives, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s becoming standard across companies,” says Allison Scott, chief research officer at the Kapor Center, which aims to increase diversity in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors. “I think that’s a promising and important sign.”
However, having a chief diversity officer on the payroll is not a panacea, researchers say.
“That all sounds good and well, but in the past there wasn’t as much accountability for it,” says Kisha Jones, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “You could get an A for effort for attempting the different practices but not have to show how change happens.”
Still, the presence of a diversity executive in the C-suite is one sign job seekers should look for when assessing whether a company is equipped to hire and retain diverse workers and effectively market to the heterogeneous customer base of the future.
Learn more about what these officers do and other signs to look for when evaluating a company’s commitment to diversity.
Duties and Conditions for Success
The work of diversity officers, also known as equal opportunity professionals, cuts across departmental boundaries. They influence hiring, training and company cultural practices that relate to three “big buckets,” explains Archie Ervin, vice president and chief diversity officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
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