The echoes of Black Live Matter protesters may have died down since the summer of 2020, but America’s CEOs know the pressure to advance racial equity still hovers over them since the murder of George Floyd.
Chief diversity officers were hired at record rates to shoulder the brunt of demands placed on companies shortly after Floyd’s death. Indeed found that listings for diversity roles jumped 56% between September 2019 and September 2020. LinkedIn data confirmed that the summer of 2020 saw a spike in the hiring of these roles. The year 2021 was the first test to see whether companies would make real progress.
These chief diversity officers – often people of color – have enacted incredible change since then. And the work they do is complicated and exhausting. They are the shepherds of what could be a new era in corporate America.
Insider is proud to present its second annual list of diversity officers changing the country. Collectively, these executives are helping break barriers for hundreds of thousands of workers while also challenging their CEOs to make their policies and business practices more inclusive.
“Historically, ERG leaders take on leadership roles and the associated work in addition to their day jobs, putting in extra time, energy, and insight. And despite the tremendous value, visibility and impact to the organization, this work is rarely rewarded financially,” Durruthy said. “The work of ERGs is more important than ever.”
This past year, LinkedIn also created the option for users to share their preferred pronouns, a big move to make the jobs platform more inclusive, especially for transgender and nonbinary professionals.
LinkedIn aims to double the number of Black and Hispanic leaders and managers on its US team over the next five years. Durruthy is also focused on increasing leadership training that focuses on inclusion and diversity.
In their own words: “As a leader and an LGBTQ woman of color, it’s been really important for me to be in conversation with my peers and to allow them to know that I see them as being responsible for helping create the change we’re all endeavoring toward.”
In September, JPMorgan committed an additional $US100 ($AU133) million to Black and Hispanic-led minority depository institutions and community-development financial institutions. A month later, JPMorgan announced to Insider it was pressuring the businesses it works with to increase spending with Black- and Hispanic-led companies. Business professors and economists predicted the bank’s efforts would have a ripple effect in the economy, boosting capital spent on minority-owned businesses.
In their own words: “Patience isn’t a virtue for me. I’m inspired to live with purpose and positively impact the lives of others — to be bold in our thinking and hold myself and others accountable to both their personal and professional responsibility to drive sustainable change.”
Parker also interviewed former first lady Michelle Obama at Google’s first Women of Color Summit aimed at promoting mentorship, sponsorship, and career development for women of color at the company.
In their own words: “I believe we need to further expand the horizon of what we do to support employees of color. To me, that means clearer pathways to leadership, mentorship opportunities, more safe spaces both on campus and virtually, and also more DEI exercise for white employees, because it is truly everybody’s responsibility to create a welcoming and gainful environment for underrepresented employees.”
Additionally, over 60% of new US hires were from underrepresented groups, including women, people with disabilities, people from underrepresented races and ethnicities, and military veterans.
In their own words: “My mantra, is ‘Everyone in!’ Everybody, especially leaders, must understand the business value of DEI. It’s integral to drive meaningful change in the short term and long term.”
He also led an effort to increase spending with suppliers owned by people of color, women, or other historically marginalized group. Across 2020 and 2021, the company is projected to spend more than $US1 ($AU1) billion with diverse suppliers.
In their own words: “As a Black man, I’m not immune to the undertones of bias in professional settings, and while my experience is not unique, by sharing and showing vulnerability I can effect change and help others feel safe to share their experiences and perspectives.”
Brand was also influential in Twitter announcing that employees have the option to work from home indefinitely. The move has helped attract and retain talent for whom working from home is best, such as working parents or people with disabilities.
In their own words: “It’s not enough for us to simply have diverse teams. We cannot check the box and keep on with our own careers because what we know is that diverse folks will remain excluded from opportunity unless we are intentional about inclusion.”
Cargan was also instrumental in AmEx creating a new office of enterprise inclusion, diversity, and business engagement that works directly with the company’s executive committee to weave DEI practices into business strategies.
In their own words: “We understood that to drive real change, we needed to further intensify our focus and make inclusion and diversity the heart of not only our workplace but how we do business.”
The company also conducted a third-party pay equity report and achieved pay equity.
In their own words: “It’s about time we see this level of change. Greatness comes from being challenged to be better and do better. I think it is so important that organizations understand the importance of and the business case for DEI in the workplace.”
In addition, Williams built a diversity advisory council, a group of 18 employees from diverse backgrounds across the globe who meet quarterly to consult on the company’s content policies, products, and human-resources programs.
In their own words: “Build DEI into business processes and products from day one. Don’t wait for the right time. That time was yesterday.”
Sam also created new coaching programs for vice presidents across all departments to gain new skills, including skills around DEI. Some 56% of the 2020 participants were promoted to new roles within the year.
In their own words: “We have to lift as we climb. If we’re not bringing others along with us, we aren’t doing our job right.”
Black, Latino, and Native American hires made up 20% of new hires in 2020, and Black, Latino, and Native American people now comprise 12.2% of Etsy’s total workforce, according to the company’s most recent diversity report. In addition, employees from these underrepresented communities now comprise 8.7% of Etsy’s leadership. The company is on track to reach its goal of doubling the percentage of Black, Latino, and Native American employees by 2023.
Thompson helped Etsy expand its mentorship opportunities for women and people of color in engineering. She also launched a third-party pay-equity analysis, which found no discrepancies in pay based on race, ethnicity, or gender, consistent with their first report conducted in 2018.
In their own words: “It’s very natural for companies to be laser-focused on the financials and goal achievement that influence the financial health of the company. There are many HR and DEI efforts that support the top and bottom line, but it’s hard for people to make those connections. I’m thankful the executive team at Etsy gets it, but many leaders at other companies don’t.”
The head of DEI also developed and implemented a new set of criteria for assessing employees up for promotion to managing director, with individuals taking part in an assessment that evaluated their skills in inclusive leadership and management.
In addition, she implemented a change that DEI will be integrated into compensation as part of managers’ formal year-end assessments going forward. Helander wants to continue diversifying the financial firm. In 2020, 63% of people hired in the US were women or ethnic minorities, according to the company.
In their own words: “Each and every person in an organization can contribute to advancing diversity and inclusion. Accountability is key to sustaining positive change.”
The financial company also released its first public DEI report, which includes a detailed breakdown of its leadership and workforce demographics.
In their own words: “The biggest change since George Floyd has been the increased engagement and ownership coming from so many people in the company who are raising their hands and wanting to be part of the change.”
Working with CEO Zander Lurie, Andrews also shaped Momentive’s initiative calling on its suppliers and vendors to increase diversity in their leadership.
In their own words: “Stamina is the characteristic most needed to combat inequity, racism, and all other negative ‘isms.’ Those of us who do this work can easily get tired, frustrated, and discouraged when progress isn’t made or is happening slowly. Change requires us to be in shape mentally and physically.”
She also helped diversify Wayfair’s leadership. The company increased the share of women in leadership positions by 7 percentage points in six months from 25% at the end of the 2020 fourth quarter to 32.8% at the end of June. The company also hired its first two directors of Indigenous descent.
In their own words: “I am more consistent in being authentically me from meeting to meeting, interaction to interaction, and I’ve experienced more folks in the workplace bringing more of their humanity to everyday interactions. I’m having more raw conversations.”
Bowman has helped the financial giant deepen connections with HBCUs and HSIs over the past year and a half. Because of these efforts, the bank’s 2021 entry-level class is at least 50% people from historically marginalized backgrounds.
In their own words: “There is no question that achieving strong operating results on equity — the right way — starts with our teammates. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the value we deliver as a company is strengthened when we bring broad perspectives together to meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders.”