Americans Tiring of Chief Diversity Officers

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Many changes to American society happened in the wake of George Floyd’s death. We can debate the reasons behind it, but the death of Floyd in May of 2020 seemed to be way more of a catalyst for “change” than anything else. But one person’s change can be another’s forced compliance. The Floyd case and the ensuing outcry that America is inherently racist and must be changed scared companies and corporations in nearly every industry in America to examine things like hiring practices and who occupied the corner office. Thus, the title of “Chief Diversity Officer” (CDO) was born. But three years later, many Americans know what is in their own hearts, that they treat everyone the same, and the era of the CDO may be on the downslide.


Some of America’s largest corporations, like Netflix, Disney — which has many more self-made problems besides diversity, equity, and inclusion — and Warner Bros. Discovery, have announced that their CDOs were leaving the companies. Many employees who work in jobs related to the CDO have been laid off, and new complaints by employees of their employers caving to the woke mob and going overboard have led to scaling back of DEI commitments. The Supreme Court recently striking down affirmative action in college admissions also got the attention of many corporate executives. Some CDOs felt like corporate brass did not want to change hiring or promotion protocols and were told that they were brought on to improve talent. And in the wake of many people who have called out DEI practices for also being discriminatory, the rush towards DEI has not been a permanent one.

Floyd’s death sent companies scrambling to create CDO positions. In 2018, less than half of S&P 500 companies had a CDO position. By 2022, three out of four companies employed a CDO. But that all could be changing. Jason Hanold is the chief executive of Hanold Associates Executive Search. He says the demand for CDOs is the lowest he has seen in 30 years and that “They’re (clients) telling us, the only way I want to go into another role with DEI is if it includes something else.” Many are getting out of the field altogether. In other instances, especially during the pandemic, many minorities moved into CDO positions, but not all were qualified, making for an unfair situation for everyone involved.


Overall, Americans are about evenly split on how important DEI in the workplace is. And the splits are about where you would expect them to be. Black, Hispanic, and Asian workers have a more favorable opinion, as do younger workers under 30 and women. When political leanings came in, 78 percent of those who identified as Democrats thought a focus on DEI was important, while 30 percent of those who said they were Republicans thought having a CDO was important. Many companies who might have wanted a CDO who could also dabble in some HR work before are recalibrating since the Supreme Court affirmative action decision. Now, if they even hire a CDO, they want that person to be able to wade through any possible legal issues as well as political fallout.

David Kenny is a chief executive with Neilsen but is also a former CEO and CDO. He believes that many American workers not being on board with DEI is because many employees think their employer should be more concerned about the less-than-ideal economy before diversity. There is also concern that they will face layoffs themselves and even concern over things like artificial intelligence. He describes it as a kind of “I’m losing my slice of the pie” mentality. But it may just come down to the simple fact that Americans don’t believe someone should be hired or not hired because of what they look like rather than based on their experience. They are tired of the implication that they are racists but just don’t know it, and need some sort of “diversity training” to deal with it.


Carriage makers and pin setters went away with the advent of technology. Chief Diversity Officers may go away with a bit of knowledge as to who Americans really are.


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