diversity report

5 major challenges faced by essential chief diversity officers today

As the latest campus asset, this growing role highlights the importance of managing diversity and expectations on campus

Chief diversity officers (CDOs) are tasked with balancing demands surrounding diversity and inclusion, and they also navigate complex challenges related to institutions’ constituents. But CDOs also face a number of challenges as they embrace their growing roles on campus.

In a new report, 81 CDOs, primarily from higher ed with input from CDOs in academic medicine and healthcare, offer input on the challenges they face, along with expectations and keys to success during the critical first year.

The Critical First Year: What New Chief Diversity Officers Need to Succeed, a study published today by Witt/Kieffer, finds that success for higher-ed CDOs depends mostly on two factors: the conditions in place at the institution, and the expectations that leaders and constituents have for what is to be accomplished.

“The chief diversity officer is a relatively new leadership role on college campuses and one that is growing in significance. The first challenge they often face is that there frequently is no diversity and inclusion strategic plan already in place,” said Charlene Aguilar, CDO survey report co-author and Consultant in Witt/Kieffer’s Education Practice.

(Next page: Do chief diversity officers have the resources they need to effect change?)

Laura Ascione