Spring/Summer 2007 - Page 39
Tese orces and others drove the emergence o the corporate CDO, just as changing demographics,the emergence o a knowledge-based economy, a ocus on the educational benets o diversity fowing rom theUniversity o Michigan Supreme Court admissions decisions (Gurin, Dey, Hurtado & Gurin 2002), persistentsocietal inequities, and the corporate community calling or graduates prepared to lead and ollow in a global andinterconnected world provided strategic impetus or the emergence o the CDO in higher education (Williams,Berger & McClendon 2005; Williams & Clowney 2007). Tis point is echoed by a higher education recruiter whohas conducted several prominent CDO searches in recent years: “Presidents and provosts are really trying to get outin ront o diversity issues and be more strategic. Tey are tired o being reactionary. Tey want to move rst and not wait or a campus incident or scenario to happen that orces them to conront diversity as a challenge. Tey want toconront diversity as an opportunity.”Te quickening pace o change has resulted in the University o Caliornia, Berkley; Wesleyan University;University o Nevada, Las Vegas; Xavier University; Berklee College o Music; Rochester Institute o echnology;University o Virginia; Harvard University and other institutions developing inaugural chie diversity ocer roles.
Defning the Role o the CDO
Where others work on issues o diversity as a matter o second or third priority, CDOs concentrate their eorts ondiversity as the primary ocus o their administrative practice. While the combination o titles and structures isnearly endless, coupled with the act that many have adopted the CDO nomenclature without a clear understandingo its denition, there is little consensus regarding optimally designed CDO positions. However, our researchidentied the ollowing dening characteristics across the majority o ocers in our study:
Change agents on campus.
Chie diversity ocers are “change management specialists.” Among other activities, theCDO leads campus-wide diversity planning and implementation eorts, seeds new diversity initiatives and developsdiversity educational strategies or executives, aculty, sta and students.
Point leaders on issues o diversity.
Although duties may include armative action/equal employment opportunity or the constituent needs o minorities, women and other bounded social identity groups, CDOs provide point andcoordinating leadership or diversity issues broadly dened to include the entire institutional community.
Given the complexities o campus diversity initiatives, CDOs serve aspowerul integratingorces or diversity issues, collaborating and working through the lateral networks and relationships o the institutionregardless o sta size.
Rely upon status and inuence to encourage and drive change.
CDOs generally have little authority outside o their ormal span o control and leadership. As a result, their source o “power” is grounded in status, persuasion andsymbols (Williams & Wade-Golden 2006).
Organizational design is time-consuming and usually involves a number o discussions involving dicultorganizational politics and questions o strategy, structure, processes and requisite skills required to perorm in therole (Gailbraith 2002). Inevitably, institutional leaders begin with questions like: At what level should we rank theposition? Whom will the person in the position supervise? How large should the budget be? Should we restructureany current diversity oces like women’s studies, multicultural aairs or disability services? Should the CDO havetenure and serve on the aculty? Should he or she have a legal or academic terminal degree? What duties should ormthe core o the CDO’s job responsibilities? Tese issues and others can consume senior leadership, planning teams,human resource proessionals and search committees developing CDO roles at their institutions.