Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence





In your opinion, what skills are necessary in order to be effective in the field of diversity and inclusion?




The reason I ask this question is because there is a lot of movement amongst diversity and inclusion professionals.  Diversity executives are getting promotions or better job offers at other companies; quitting due to conflicts of interest; terminating to start their own consulting firms; and getting fired in record numbers.




What is often paradoxical, is that some people will teach diversity and inclusion (D&I) skill sets such as conflict resolution, communication, leadership, etc., but these same individuals will terminate from their positions because of a conflict, or a lack of communication, et al.




The latest figures from Diversity Officer Magazine suggests that a Chief Diversity Officer has an average salary of $225,000 and an average of 4 years in their position, although they may have been with the organization much longer. Of course, salary depends on the type of organization and the efficacy of D&I to the organization, but generally, practitioners are paid fairly well.




There have been some early stars in the field that attained outstanding and consistent results, and accordingly, CEO’s have paid attention. As the new generation of D&I practitioners come on board however, and the field of diversity and inclusion continues to evolve and create new jobs, today’s CEO’s expect every diversity practitioner that comes through the door to obtain the same outstanding and consistent results as the early stars. And they don’t give you a lot of time to do it anymore.




Several individuals have enrolled in the Institute for Diversity Certification’s program, but were unable to complete the 8-week online preparation courses because they were terminated. In almost all of the cases, a new diversity practitioner was immediately hired to replace these individuals. I believe this recent trend signals that the field is maturing.




Mary Frances Winters, President of the Winters Group, developed a report that details some of the trends that have taken place in the field of diversity. Not only do practitioners need to know what these trends are, but they also need to know how those industry developments impact their employer.




Additionally, I wouldn’t be Leah if I didn’t give a shameless plug for the Institute for Diversity Certification. When the individuals who terminated first enrolled in our program, it was already too late. But you, you have an opportunity to enroll, acquire new skills and knowledge, and adjust your course of action. Our designees report fantastic outcomes that are in line with CEO expectations. And, we introduced 3-day, classroom-based preparation courses that can help get professionals up-to-speed much quicker.




What else can be done to address the skill-set gap for this next generation of diversity and inclusion practitioners? Or, is it your opinion that the D&I industry is facing another, bigger hurdle?



By Leah Smiley, CDE

Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the parent company of the Institute for Diversity Certification. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto 

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