Rotational D&I roles

I’ve been hearing of a few companies who have implemented a rotational role for the head of Diversity and Inclusion. I would love to hear about companies who have implemented this, what went well, what didn’t, and any tips that you have if we are considering doing this in our own company!

Thanks!

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Hi everyone! I work for a Denver-based software company called Four Winds Interactive (~500 employees), and we have implemented the rotational Chief Diversity Officer model with great success! In fact, I was first inspired by Steven Huang’s blog post about this idea, and it resonated very much with me as something that might work at FWI.

Steven’s original post: https://www.cultureamp.com/blog/designing-a-new-approach-to-diversity-and-inclusion/

I served as FWI’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer from May 2018 - May 2019. In May 2019, I passed the baton onto our second CDO, Megan Abman. Megan had rotated up into the role from my steering committee, and I in turn rotated onto her committee (for consistency, as all other members of my committee also rotated out). The handoff has been amazing and so affirming so far! Megan is already running at 2x the speed I did, the energy of her committee is entirely different, and they’re asking smart and important questions that we never tackled the first time around. We’re also effective in very different ways, so I’m beyond excited to see where she takes the DEI conversation at our company.

You can read about our handoff and different approaches to DEI in our joint blog post here: https://www.fourwindsinteractive.com/blog/diversity-equality-and-inclusion-at-fwi

For the record, both Megan and I kept our regular jobs and the CDO work was on top of that (I work in Design; Megan in Sales). I did it out of passion because it wasn’t a conversation we could not have; I believe this actually puts FWI on the right side of history. For companies at a certain stage in their DEI journey, I think this model can work beautifully, especially since these passionate employees already deeply understand the company’s culture.

I’ve been evangelizing this idea quite a bit, and there are a few other Denver/Boulder companies that are going to be trying this rotational model as well. I’m incredibly passionate about this topic and happy to chat or answer questions any time. Please feel free to email me at karyn.lu@fourwindsinteractive.com

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I am THRILLED that this is working for you and the Four Winds team, @karynlu! I believe PwC has done a similar approach, although I can’t find anything online.

I wish there was a full, concrete list of pros and cons to the rotational approach. (Or a full concrete list to anything related to D&I!). Ultimately, make sure there is executive alignment. I would also encourage you to be flexible. It’s hard to anticipate what your needs will be!

I was going to be the 2018 Head of D&I, but our new Chief People Officer started in December of 2018, so we made a decision to not rotate until 2019. Twelve months goes by so fast - it’s actually been nice to have the extra 6 months to see a few programs through and be able to measure the success. However, being in the role for 18+ months is quite difficult too, because roles and org structure changes - and I need to re-assimilate back into my other team (or find a new team, should I wish).

All-in-all, I think it’s great idea to consider to see if it’s right for your culture. Be flexible and realistic!

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