Ep 07 | What is a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer?

What’s a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer? Ever heard of the concept of fractional senior leadership?

Are you trying to decide if you need to add a DEI C-Suite executive to your business? If you’re looking to improve your business’ DEI efforts, hiring a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer could be a great option.

If you want to know more about this new trend of fractional senior leadership, keep reading.

Yesterday, I sent an email where I mentioned the attack on DEI work. Today I shared a post on Instagram referring to the DEI Officer Drop-off. If you’re not following me on IG, stop what you’re doing right now and follow me now @helloambi. You can join my email list here

Today I want to share a little more about how the DEI Drop-off can be reversed and the future of work for DEI Officers.

Job openings for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) roles surged after the nationwide protests that followed the murder of George Floyd.

But now, DEI professionals are losing their jobs, as layoffs across the economy have gained momentum. 

Revelio Labs’ 2023 report on the state of DEI and the impact of last year’s layoffs, found that DEI-focused roles “experienced a nearly 40% churn rate at companies engaged in layoffs, as compared to about 24% for non-DEI roles.”

Want to know what’s even more cringe?

Black employees represent only 3.8% of chief diversity officers overall, with White people making up 76.1% of the roles.

The data shows the pledge to impact change was not followed by genuine effort.

Two other concerns helped make DEI positions expendable:

  1. The lack of support from higher-ups.
  2. The hiring of workers who have little or no experience in executing this specialized job.

The DEI Drop-Off is leading to a DEI Shakedown… 

It is my belief that those who believe this work matters will stay in the field, on their own terms and the trend will be reversed.

This leads me to the concept of the Fractional Chief Diversity Officer or Fractional CDO…

What is a Fractional CDO?

A Fractional Chief Diversity Officer is a senior-level executive who provides strategic guidance and leadership on DEI initiatives.

How does it work?

Fractional CDOs typically work with multiple organizations on a part-time basis, providing expertise and support to help organizations achieve their DEI goals. A Fractional CDO is a consultant who provides DEI services to organizations on a part-time or project-based basis. Fractional CDOs can be a valuable asset to organizations of all sizes, as they can provide specialized expertise and support without the need for a full-time CDO position.

What do Fractional CDOs do?

Some of the common tasks that a Fractional CDO might perform include:

  • Conducting diversity audits and assessments
  • Developing DEI training and education programs
  • Creating and implementing DEI policies and procedures
  • Building and managing DEI teams
  • Measuring and reporting on DEI progress

If you’re considering hiring a Fractional CDO, there are a few things you need to keep in mind: 

  • Clearly define your needs and goals. Take my DEI Assessment to determine your priority focus right now. Your org may need a lot of things but you should be focused on a specific project with your Fractional CDO.
  • What are your expectations for the Fractional CDO? Do you know what results you’d like to see in a specific amount of time? Are they realistic and have you allocated funds and other means of support that will directly align with reaching your DEI goal? The CDO guides and counsels the business’ DEI initiatives but the onus isn’t completely on them. They also do not work miracles, so know that change won’t happen overnight, especially if there are deeply rooted bias issues within your workplace culture. Remember, culture eats strategy for breakfast. So, you must be in it for the long haul if you are truly committed to seeing a change in your organization’s culture.
  • What kind of support do you need from a Fractional CDO? For example, if you are in a hiring season do you want the Fractional CDO to conduct implicit bias training for your team, participate in the interviews, provide inclusive interview questions, and/or assist with the onboarding of new hires? Have an idea of how involved you’ll want the Fractional CDO to be in your team management, project management, and systems and ops management.

Once you know what you’re looking for in a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer, you can start your search for the right candidate. When you’re interviewing candidates, be sure to: 

???? Ask about their experience – What results have they produced? Do they have a portfolio where you can review speaker reels, read about their past projects or review case studies and testimonials?

???? Ask about their expertise – How long have they been doing the work? What certifications have they earned? It is also a good idea to call their references.

???? Ask about their approach to DEI. Here are a few approaches to consider.

  • Remedial Approach – Driven by Law – Focus on Equal Opportunity and Compliance
  • Idealistic Approach – Driven by Ethics – Focus on Celebration and Appreciation of Differences
  • Practical Approach – Driven by Corporate Strategy – Focus on Building Skills and Changing Policies
  • Inclusive Approach – Driven by Globalization and Demographics – Focus on growth, Continual Change and Tangible Impact (This approach benefits the entire organization, all employees, shareholders, vendors, and other partners.)

???? You should also ask about their availability and rates. If they are fractional they may be taking on other projects or part-time work with other organizations. You’ll want to know how much time they can dedicate to your business and if you’ll be paying on retainer for counsel or per project. Weigh the value of the services against the risks of not having these DEI outcomes to assess if the CDO’s fees are worth the cost to your business.

Once you’ve found the right candidate, be sure to onboard your Fractional Chief Diversity Officer properly and provide them with the resources they need to be successful. Do not bring on a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer if you are not committed to doing the hard and uncomfortable work. One of the main reasons DEI doesn’t work for some companies is because their DEI Officers have lacked support. Company leadership has historically been content with the “illusion of inclusion” or “golden handcuffs”. Meaning, they want to appear to be doing DEI work, but leadership is not providing the DEI Officers with the budget, leadership support or other necessary resources for the work to be successful. Several DEI positions have come with big salaries, but not bold action. 

If you still aren’t sure but need a little guidance on what your business should do next to foster a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace, take my DEI assessment at helloambi.com/dei-assessment.

Emmett Till Family (Amberly Carter, Ollie Gordon, Thelma Edwards, Wheeler Parker, Marvel Parker) with close friend Christopher Benson at the unveiling of the 6-foot Mamie Till Mobley memorial monument at Argo Community High School.

I love a good ICYMI and so I thought it only fitting that this week’s Stack The Deck be dedicated to my favorite moments from the last weeks that you may have missed if you aren’t connected to me personally on LinkedIn. (Let’s connect now!)

These are the books that are currently helping me with my season of pivot.

  1. Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts https://amzn.to/40fc7vF
  2. Don’t Stay in Your Lane: The Career Change Guide for Women of Color by Cynthia Pong
  3. I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace by Elizabeth Leiba

???? I help my clients meet the global demands of business and address the challenges that come along with changing demographics, differing points of view, and workplace fairness.

???????? I’m a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer who is a certified Digital Business Manager and Certified Diversity Executive.

 ???? I am a cousin of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley. I use my platform to tell my truth and promote racial reconciliation.

???? I’m looking for opportunities to speak about race and racial equity in the workplace this year.

❓Run a podcast? Want a guest blog?

???? Give me a shout: amberly@amberlycarter.com

Uno Out!