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Is it time for a Fractional Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer?




An inclusive workspace doesn’t just mean having diversity amongst your employees. It means knowing how to grow strategically, cultivate talent, and build products and content that reach audiences in an authentic way. Sounds easy right?


The prospect of developing a diversity & inclusion strategy that: speaks to your community; is authentic in approach; and aligns with the strategic vision of the company, can be overwhelming to say the least. It’s even harder to achieve when you don't have the expertise and/or time. As a shortcut and well-intentioned way to create quick change, many companies are burdening HR or employee resource groups with this mammoth task. However, this response to the ever evolving social climate can be steeped in short-termism and may not yield the lasting change companies are hoping for. The reality is that a solitary unconscious bias training will raise awareness but will do little else if it is not part of a larger strategy that looks at policies, culture, recruitment etc.


The desire for a quick fix is understandable when we're in the midst of what many are dubbing 'The Great Resignation'. The power dynamics have shifted towards the employee who understands that they can quit and quickly find a job that aligns with their values and needs. Employees are more willing than ever to leave jobs/companies that do not invest in their human capital. The absence of new personal development opportunities and lack of inclusive policies and diversity (particularly at leadership level) is no longer accepted. This is backed up by data – in the UK, job vacancies surpassed the one million mark for the first time in July, and a Microsoft study found that 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer this year. What is clear is that retention should be top of everyone’s agenda.


So what is the solution?


Hire a Diversity executive? Since May 2020, many companies have hired their first diversity leader. LinkedIn data shows that the number of people globally with the 'head of diversity' title more than doubled (107% growth) over the last five years and that growth has intensified over the past year. But with no guarantee of success, this hire can be very costly. The average tenure of a CDIO is just 3.2 years versus a CEO at 5.5 years. What ultimately drives them out of the door is a lack of resources (budget and direct reports).


A great alternative is a Fractional Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer (CDIO), which offers a more measured and tailored solution. This is an experienced professional that offers their expertise to organisations in a part-time, retainer, or contract arrangement. In contrast to consultants, Fractional CDIOs work in an advisory AND implementation capacity to help companies execute on their vision and mission. Unlike a full-time CDIO who oversees and maintains all general D&I strategy or an interim CDIO who performs duties before or between hires, a fractional CDIO’s duties are typically on a project basis and specifically tuned to the company’s particular challenges or goals. This provides a plethora of advantages to companies that choose this over hiring a full time executive.


  1. They are more cost effective, allowing companies to realise the benefits without being lumbered with an exorbitant salary

  2. They are more aligned to the demands of the specific business as many companies don't actually require the full time services of an executive

  3. Their exposure to a variety of clients allow them to bring the best in class ideas, expertise and outside perspective

  4. Prevention is always better than a cure. They help companies to identify issues that left unchecked can cause bigger issues that are costly to fix

  5. They are great for companies that are growing that don't yet have the internal capability but want to build it over time


Diversity and inclusion isn’t a once size fits all. Finding a solution that aligns with your business needs and goals is imperative. With such large shifts in social consciousness and pressure for change, a fractional chief diversity & inclusion officer could be the answer you’ve been looking for.


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