Hiring for diversity officers stalls 2 years after big promises

(Bloomberg) –Two years ago, companies made big promises to strengthen workplace diversity and equality. Today the rush to hire people in charge of those efforts has not only stalled but reversed course.

A new LinkedIn report studying more than 500,000 C-suite hirings between 2019 and 2022 found that despite a 168.9% growth in hires for Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers overall in the past four years, the role experienced a 4.5% decline in hires last year. The role was the fastest-growing C-suite position in 2020 and 2021, but the only one of the top-10 growing roles to reverse hiring trends between 2021 and 2022.

Job listings for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) roles spiked in the summer of 2020. The murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a White police officer sparked widespread protests across the US, as well as promises from companies to ensure their workforces were diverse, and their environments inclusive. June 2020 saw 4.3 times as many job postings for DEI roles as there were five years prior, the consulting group McKinsey & Co. noted. As of March 2021, 53% of S&P 500 companies had a chief diversity officer post or an equivalent role.

This year, as layoffs hammer the tech sector and other industries, diversity, equity and inclusion departments are being disproportionately affected. According to the the hiring resource company Textio, listings for DEI roles were down 19% last year, third only to data science and software engineering jobs.

Furthermore, high turnover rates have plagued the diversity C-suite for years, and that can bleed over to talent attrition overall. A report by McKinsey and the equity nonprofit LeanIn.org released last October found that 18% of women leaders left a company in the previous two years because they felt their employer didn’t adequately prioritize DEI efforts.

To contact the authors of this story:
Ella Ceron in New York at eceron1@bloomberg.net
Lindsey Rupp in New York at lrupp2@bloomberg.net

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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