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Change for Chief Diversity Officers

Change for Chief Diversity Officers
August 12, 2011

A new survey suggests that the position of chief diversity officer may soon see significant changes. The survey, by the search firm Witt/Kieffer, found that half of chief diversity officers at colleges plan to leave their positions within three years.

Such turnover could lead to significant changes in the position at some institutions. More than 43 percent of respondents said that they were the first such employees to hold the title at their respective institutions. The survey was based on answers from 94 chief diversity officers at a representative sample of four-year institutions.

One of the key issues facing chief diversity officers is their relative position in the campus hierarchy. The survey found that 36 percent report directly to the president, and 69 percent said that, regardless of whom they report to, the president is involved in strategic planning related to diversity. More than half of respondents said that they were part of the institution's senior leadership team.

Titles varied widely, with some serving as vice presidents/vice provosts, some as assistant vice presidents/vice provosts, and others holding "director" or other titles.

Lucy Leske, co-director of the education and not-for-profit practice at Witt/Kieffer, said that in discussions with chief diversity officers, she senses a wide range in their status on campus. She recalled talking to one administrator recently who talked about how, when budgets fell in the fall of 2008, diversity positions were slashed. On another campus, she said, a chief diversity officer told her of worries about being seen as having too much power by others who may resent the role he plays.

Other findings in the survey:

  • Most people in chief diversity officer positions have been working in diversity fields for some time, with 41 percent reporting that they have at least 15 years of experience, and another 25 percent reporting 11-15 years of experience.
  • Just over half (51 percent) of respondents reported having annual budgets that exceed $300,000.
  • In terms of salary, 27 percent of survey respondents reported that their income was below $100,000 per year, while 14 percent reported annual income above $200,000.

 

 

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