Chief Diversity Officer Isn’t Enough

Hiring Black people to singlehandedly tackle deep-rooted corporate racist practices is a part of the problem of tackling structural racism in America

8 min readDec 12, 2020

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen an increased spotlight on Chief Diversity Officers (CDO) and how they are going to improve the lack of inclusion and diversity within their companies. Largely these roles are being filled by PoC, and while I love C-Suite title positions going to PoC, shouldn’t we mean more to a company than just having to focus on tackling decades of racist policies?

Hiring Black and Brown people for PR points and relegating them to these positions seems like a cop out and highlights the persistent issues of racial equity and equality within corporate America. In fact, there are just four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Black and Brown people should be given the opportunity to do far more than tackle diversity within a company. To make real change, we need to be given the same opportunities and access to other high level positions within a company.

Some of the largest companies in the world like Apple, Amazon, and McDonald’s have pledged their support for Black Lives Matter and called out racial injustice with donations and statements of solidarity, but more meaningful actions need to be taken. What does it really mean when a company like Apple, which made $55 billion in net income last year, pledges to donate $100 million to racial issues? Apple is effectively donating 0.18% of their profits to fight racism.

To make real change, stop making Black and Brown people serve as the poster child for your diversity campaign. Just as PoC shouldn’t be the ones having to explain racism to white people, companies shouldn’t be expecting the same from us within the corporate world. Donations and statements of support are great, but what really needs to happen is providing safe working conditions for employees, paying a livable wage, access to health insurance, and greater opportunities to be promoted to positions of power.

What does it really mean when a company like Apple, which made $55 billion in net income last year, pledges to donate $100 million to racial issues?

Giving away $100 million, that’s great, but it’s not really dealing with systemic racism or addressing the issues of equity and equality within America.

Donating money, giving PoC titles like Chief Diversity Officer, and releasing statements of support for Black Lives Matter is putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. These actions do not even come close to addressing the issue of being anti-racist. Tactics like these just confirm what companies have been saying for awhile, they are not racist.

That’s not enough anymore.

To make real change, companies need to let us know they are anti-racist. They need to diversify the boards of their companies, be held accountable for actions that directly impact minority groups such as building factories that spew carcinogens in poor neighborhoods, and provide greater opportunity for promotion within their companies.

It’s not the job of us to correct or fix the diversity issues for these companies. Give us space outside of inclusion and diversity to make structural change within a company and allow us to speak freely about the issues that impact us.

The next time I see a company hire a PoC to be Chief Diversity Officer, while the rest of the C-Suite remains largely white, it’ll make me wonder if they really care about equity or just the bottom line.

An Injustice!
A new intersectional publication, geared towards voices, values, and identities!