Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.
Question: How many companies now have CDOs?
Of the companies that participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition, the percentage of companies that have a “chief diversity officer” (that specific title) has risen from 12 percent five years ago to 30 percent today. However, 96 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50 have a dedicated executive leading diversity efforts, versus 46 percent of the DiversityInc Top 50 companies five years ago. Further, 86 percent of the the DiversityInc Top 50 have diversity leaders with titles at director or above and including “diversity” in their title.
The numbers reflect a trend of increasing corporate interest in diversity management. In 2005, we only had 201 companies participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 process. Last year we had 535 companies participate. We define a participant as a company that asks for and receives a survey; not all of them can fill out the entire survey, but participation has risen an average of 17 percent year-on-year since 2004. To qualify to compete in the DiversityInc Top 50, the only qualification is that your organization has at least 1,000 employees. There are roughly 12,500 for-profit and nonprofit organizations with more than 1,000 employees in the United States.
Participating in the DiversityInc Top 50 competition is free—there’s no connection between being on the list and business conducted with us (we are not pay-to-play) and every organization that fills out enough data receives a free report card. Here’s a link to our FAQ.
Another way of measuring corporate interest is by data mining. We use a contact-management system that has a product to allow us to search a pool of contacts. This year, we pulled a list of 1,800 companies that have more than 1,000 employees and that also have a person who is responsible for diversity. We’ve added them to our database of companies that we invite to participate (once they download the survey, we count them as participants). Please click here if you want to make sure your organization receives an invitation. When we utilized data mining five years ago, only 500 companies had people with “diversity” in their titles.
In conclusion, the trend over the last five years, despite the economic crisis, has been a dramatic increase in the interest of organizations to purposefully manage diversity.