What does a diversity officer do?

The title “diversity officer,” and similar positions such as “chief diversity officer” and “diversity manager” are relatively new to the business world. Some business owners may have only recently heard of the position.

An increasing number of companies are including jobs with these titles in their companies due to their importance. For those who run their own businesses, knowing what the job of “diversity officer” entails and what it can mean for your company may prove vital.

A diversity officer fills a versatile role and could deal with a range of areas within any given company. He or she sees to the company’s compliance with government diversity regulations, but the job goes far beyond this primary task. The role could improve recruitment and hiring practices, management, teamwork and encourage employee satisfaction. Having an officer take responsibility for the diversity and inclusion in your workplace could be what you need to drive and increase the growth of your business.

Increases Diversity

As suggested by the title, a diversity officer is primarily concerned with increasing an organization’s diversity and inclusion. The effects this can have on a business are extremely positive. It has been noted in several studies that increased diversity within a company can increase revenue by a significant amount, as well as help the business to grow in other ways.

Diversifying your workforce can mean you are able to draw on a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds for ideas and problem solving, resulting in greater innovation and creativity. You may find it much easier to expand to new demographics, as these are already represented within your company. By implementing inclusive methods in areas such as your hiring practices, you can ensure you are not missing out on talented hires because of stale policies and biases.

Works with Minority Populations

A major part of a diversity officer’s job is working alongside any minority groups connected with your organization. The officer listens to any issues or concerns expressed by minority group members and seeks to address them. The officer may be responsible for helping resolve inclusion-related issues and conflicts such as those relating to discrimination and harassment. If there are any partner organizations your company needs to collaborate with, the officer may operate as a contact or liaison. The groups a diversity officer may work with include:

  • Employees.
  • Partners.
  • Stakeholders.
  • Customers.
  • Suppliers.
  • Students.
  • Minority organizations.

Meets Government Standards

There are several regulations every organization is expected to meet in terms of inclusion and diversity. These include laws set by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to prevent discrimination based on race, religion, orientation, sex, age and other factors. Some workplaces fall under Affirmative Action regulations, requiring them to hire qualified applicants from diverse or minority backgrounds.

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If a company fails to follow the set regulations, it may face serious legal consequences. A diversity officer can help to ensure this does not happen. The officer is responsible for assessing the organization, monitoring its practices to ensure it is in compliance with any necessary regulations. He or she must be able to provide assistance to any member of the company who requires advice on these matters.

Analyzes and Assesses

The areas of responsibility for a diversity officer are varied, and the officer may often be required to analyze and assess many different aspects of a business or organization. This must be done not only with inclusion and diversity in mind, but with a knowledge of how diverse practices can affect business growth and revenue streams as well. A diversity officer may assess the following areas:

  • Hiring practices: Improvement in this means the company is open to hiring people of diverse backgrounds.
  • Employee retention: This aspect of an employer reflects employee satisfaction, and retention of workers is often affected by the company’s inclusion policies.
  • Inequality: Inequality in the workplace can carry on unnoticed without proper assessment, and a diversity officer may bring about change in areas such as unequal pay.
  • Staff attitudes and beliefs: The diversity officer can assess staff members who may be intolerant or discriminatory in their behavior. He or she then makes a recommendation to management regarding which steps to take regarding the intolerant or discriminatory employee.
  • Workplace environment: The diversity officer can assess the environment of a workplace and company culture. If there are any issues, the offer may implement training or programs to resolve the problems.
  • Guidelines set by the government: A diversity officer ensures that federal and state policies are enforced through consistent monitoring and analysis. Some companies may have corporate diversity policies that need to be maintained, and a diversity officer can include this in his or her duties.

Teaches and Coaches

When an issue has been noted, the diversity officer must be able to address it. This might involve coaching sessions with the company’s staff, for example, either in small groups or across the entire organization. The officer may need to develop specific programs to deal with certain issues within the company. Workshops and other events may be included in the programs. The officer is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the programs he or she has implemented.

Advises Management

Generally, a diversity officer reports to senior management, such as the CEO of a company. The work the officer does may involve changing the company’s operations, policies and procedures, and these suggestions are made directly to those responsible for implementing the changes. The officer needs to be able to offer guidance to senior staff, advising them on their own practices as well as collaborating on company-wide plans. This can be particularly important to a company’s policy of inclusion, as implementing the changes from the top of the company structure down may have the most noticeable effect.

If a member of the company or organization files a complaint relating to discrimination, the officer may be put in charge of investigating or overseeing an investigation into the issue. He or she must be able to advise the company management as to how to deal with the issue as it unfolds, and the diversity officer must continue to offer advice after a finding an issue.

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