MAY 1, 2023

Why Diversity Officers Are Being Fired Or Put Under HR

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives have gained a lot of traction in recent years, with many organizations making it a priority to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. However, some companies have recently made headlines for firing or demoting their Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), leaving many to wonder…why?

One of the most common reasons CDOs are being let go or demoted is a lack of progress in the company’s DEIB initiatives. Many organizations have made public commitments to diversity and inclusion, but they have failed to follow through with meaningful action.

Another reason is a lack of will or accountability at the top of the company. Let’s face it, some leaders are just not ready to empower the marginalized because they fear losing power.

A third reason, as long as we’re being honest, is the pushback some employers are getting from employees who say that DEIB initiatives are creating a hostile work environment for White people.

Lastly, some companies are saying it’s due to budget cuts or restructuring. DEIB initiatives often require resources and investment, and in tough economic times, companies have an excuse to shelve efforts that they are uncomfortable with.

Whatever the reason, I support the shift to move DEIB under HR. I have always said that DEIB is part of employee relations, and HR leads people systems.

But, dismantling DEIB altogether is problematic and the long-term effects will be costly on many levels.

It’s my hope that the diversity officers who are being fired are being let go because they were ineffective, not because DEIB itself is on the chopping block.

I have said before, and will say again, that DEIB shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone program or initiative but as a way of operating across the entire employee life cycle – and this requires HR folks to be more skilled at facilitating DEIB conversations.

As we continue seeing more DEIB programs move under HR, one important step to ensure a smooth transition is investing in training for more HR professionals, so they have a firm foundation in DEIB work.

If you are unsure about what to do next – whether it’s fighting to keep your DEIB work going or restructuring to integrate DEIB into the HR Department – reach out. We can help.