What makes one diversity and inclusion effort tangibly successful, and another mediocre and seemingly irrelevant—both internally and in the marketplace? Some observers—both experienced and less so in these matters—will tell you unequivocally that, first and foremost, the difference is the active and vocal involvement of the chief executive officer who works in tandem with the chief diversity officer (CDO). Second is the involvement of the senior leadership team (SLT).
Many books written on this topic highlight the importance of CEO involvement and commitment. However, most authors don't seem to deal with CEO commitment until the latter chapters of their books. We believe that this particular area—along with the involvement of the SLT—is so pivotal to the successful implementation of the strategy that it should be addressed within the first few chapters. We address it here because we see CEO commitment as an essential first step in inclusion and diversity strategy implementation. Without the CEO's explicit and early involvement, few actions taken to address inclusion and diversity issues will gain traction and be sustainable. Therefore, we might argue that, without CEO commitment, you might as well not even engage the organization in inclusion and diversity efforts.
The impact of CEO commitment to inclusion and diversity is four-fold:
Observable, behavioral commitment as a strategic business driver.