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D&I Chiefs Are Gaining Steam in the C-Suite

By George Paul

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

Over the past year, a few C-suite positions have spiked in popularity due to current events and underlying needs. Can you guess which ones?

Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph Research
Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph Research

The composition of the C-suite is changing.

In addition to adopting new policies to adapt to the future of work and complex societal issues, companies are also making major changes to their core leadership teams to reflect their values, goals, and ambitions.

From September 2020 to August 2021, LinkedIn took a look at over 100,000 hiring decisions involving “chief” level positions and discovered which of the 51 roles saw the biggest change.

graph fastest growing C-suite data courtesy of LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph research, September 2020 to August 2021

At the top of the list was a 110% surge in hiring Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers, reflecting the reckoning that companies, and society as a whole, had with race and representation following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.

D&I chiefs are responsible for championing equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives across the company from company training programs to strategic plans. The D&I chief work with leadership to make sure stakeholders are represented in products and the workplace regardless of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, class, disability, and nationality.

The organizations that have brought on D&I chiefs in the past year are wide-ranging and underscore the importance of the role. These organizations rage from Harvard Business School to US Special Operations Command and from the NBA to Condé Nast.

But it isn’t just the C-suite that saw an influx of diversity and inclusion executives, as other companies, like Match Group, also hired for the position, though at a lower rank (think VP or Head of D&I). These positions typically fall under a Chief People Officer, which also saw a 61% jump in hiring in the past year as company’s grapple with the great resignation and the shift to remote work.

Despite the boom in hiring for D&I positions, the talent pool remains disproportionately small. “There’s a lot of interest from people who are trying to break in at the entry-level, which is great,” Jennifer Kim, a Head of People and D&I strategist for startups, said in an interview with The Org. “But if you look at the top levels, I don’t think that pipeline is ready to meet the needs of startups today.”

In the coming years as D&I grows as an area of focus for HR organizations, we can expect the top-tier talent pool to grow and the trend in C-suite hiring to continue.

However, looking forward to next year and beyond, another position to keep an eye on may be Chief Supply Chain Officers. These top execs take care of everything from sourcing, procuring, planning, manufacturing, and distributing of products and services. Their importance is only on the rise as major corporations and startups navigate tightening global supply lines caused by Covid-19 and geopolitical strife. Weak and disrupted supply chains have had knock on effects as a lack of materials or components can cause delays in production and lead to longer fulfillment times for consumers.

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