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This is me speaking about DEI in Tech on Lenovo Late Night I.T. Season 2!

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DEI in 5: Bite-Sized Discussions on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Ep12: Common DEI Roles

Updated: Mar 26

Today, we're going to be talking about some common diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) roles that exist both internally within an organization and externally for consultants, and I'll touch on some of the core skills and experiences that are typically needed for each role. This list is not exhaustive, but it should be helpful for those of you who are interested in starting or transitioning your career into DEI.

I won't really be giving my opinion on these roles today, but if you want me to do a deeper dive or share my thoughts, feel free to drop a comment.

So to start, there are typically 3 groups of internal DEI roles: Leadership roles, Project or Program Management Roles, and Coordinator Roles

Let's start with the leadership roles. Typically this is your Chief Diversity Officer or CDO and your Vice President of DEI (or VP of DEI). These roles are responsible for developing and implementing the overall DEI strategy for the organization.

The CDO is typically responsible for an organization's overall DEI strategy. Which means they’re setting the vision for the strategy, identifying goals, creating policies, etc. In an ideal world, a CDO is seated with the rest of the senior or executive leaders of an organization. They should work closely with them, along with any board of directors, partners, and any other key stakeholders to ensure that DEI is integrated into all that the company does.

In an ideal world, the VP of DEI oversees all DEI initiatives within the company - if there’s a DEI team, they typically will manage them - and they generally work with leaders across the company as well as HR to ensure that DEI is being integrated across the organization.

There's overlap, but typically the CDO sets the vision, and the VP makes it happen.

For both roles, you should have significant experience working hands-on in the DEI space in a variety of roles or capacities, a deep understanding of DEI principles and theory, strong inclusive leadership & management skills, and the ability to develop and implement effective strategies.

Next, we have the DEI program or project manager. This role is responsible for overseeing and managing the implementation of DEI initiatives, such as training programs, policy development, and recruitment efforts. An example of a common role that we see fall under the DEI program or project manager bucket is the Employee Resource Group (ERG) program manager, who is responsible for managing the ERGs.

Ideally, a DEI program or project manager has a decent amount of project management experience, strong communication and interpersonal skills, and a good knowledge and understanding of DEI principles and practices. Ideally, they've participated in at least a couple of DEI efforts, such as employee resource groups and recruiting, so that they have some hands-on experience.

Finally, we have our DEI coordinators. DEI initiatives also require coordination and support roles to ensure their success. The DEI coordinator works closely with the program or project manager to ensure that DEI initiatives are properly executed. They’re often responsible for logistical things, like organizing events, managing budgets, scheduling meetings, and tracking progress towards DEI goals. DEI coordinators typically have some admin experience, event planning experience, budget management skills, and at least a baseline understanding of and interest in DEI principles and practices.

Now like I said, these are the primary roles that we see internally. Externally, and with both independent consultants and consulting groups, it’s common to see people focus on particular areas of specialty, such as gender and sexuality, anti-racism, and DEI strategy, which leans heavily into analytics and data.

You also have more generalized DEI coaches and consultants who can help individuals, teams, and organizations from an external standpoint do things like address personal and systemic biases, deepen their understanding of DEI principles and practices, and develop a strategy.

Often, coaches and consultants will specialize in a few areas of expertise. These roles require a significant amount of hands-on DEI experience, coaching skills, strong communication, and a significant level of business knowledge, especially if you're working as an independent consultant.

So that’s all for today. I hope this content was helpful!

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