On January 18, LinkedIn came out with their listing of the 25 fastest-growing job titles over the past five years and the trends defining the future world of work. Number two on that list was Diversity and Inclusion (DEI)  leaders. LinkedIn defined the job as “lead[ing] teams of people supporting company initiatives related to increasing diversity, equity and belonging within an organization.”

They went on to say that 70.2% of those currently holding this position are women and only 29.8% men. And that the most common industries with these positions are  Higher Education, Non-Profit Organization Management, and Hospital & Health Care in large cities such as Washington, New York, and Chicago.

Clearly the trend over the past decade (the average tenure of those currently in the job is 9 years), has been toward an increasing concern for more equitable opportunity for women, people of color, LGBTQI+ people, people of differing abilities – that is to say, people from groups that have historically been marginalized. For some organizations this is driven by concerns for image and positioning, for others by moral values, and for still others by the business case. Companies with greater diversity have been shown to have better ROE, creativity and innovation, and employee engagement than those who are lagging behind in these efforts.

It can also be shown that companies where DEI is driven from the highest levels of the organization – where, for example, there is a Chief Diversity Officer, or the DEI lead reports to the CEO show better results than, again for example, DEI reports into HR, Legal, or Compliance.

In considering expanding and empowering DEI efforts, there are four questions worth thinking about to ensure that your DEI efforts fulfill your values as an organization:

  1. Are your recruiting efforts truly unbiased? In a previous blog we discussed the subtle nature of unconscious bias that can creep into even the best-intended hiring process. It is probably best to assume that the answer to this question is “no” unless rigorous attention is paid to minimizing or eliminating bias. When unconscious bias is brought to awareness and met with commitment, the odds of successfully hiring qualified diverse employees increases.
  2. Do you know where to source diverse candidates? The commitment to recruiting for diversity requires developing deep relationships with diverse networks and maintaining a commitment to advocacy, inclusivity, and belonging.
  3. Do you provide an inclusive and inviting environment? Studies show that even the best DEI recruiting programs can be undermined if candidates find themselves isolated or unsupported once they are hired.
  4. Are you engaged in continuously improving your DEI environment? Even the best efforts by executive leadership need to be developed by constantly aiming for improvement.

Given the many pitfalls in approaching DEI recruiting and hiring, outsourcing the effort is likely to produce the best results and to insulate the company from the possibility of mistakes. An effective recruiting partner will know how to identify the right combination of skill and experience to find the top candidates for an executive-level position, and that executive, when hired, will drive the growth of DEI.


BrainWorks is a prominent boutique executive search firm offering a 29-year track record of successfully sourcing and placing top talent. By harnessing proven strategies, collaborating with stakeholders, and leveraging a diverse and talented candidate network, BrainWorks helps businesses find, attract, and ultimately hire talented professionals that create differentiated results. To learn more about how Brainworks can help you, contact us.

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