Grace for Each Day: CDOs Speak Their Truths about their Journeys for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Higher Education
Editor: Dr. Carol E. Henderson
Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion |Chief Diversity Officer |Adviser to the President |Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322 USA
Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) roles are not new. Some accounts believe these positions were designed during the 1970s with the creation of Minority Affairs roles. In some organizations, CDO are housed in HR and focus on hiring, culture, and learning. Some also link compliance work to these roles. Industry—whether Fortune 500 or Higher Education—also determines how these roles are deployed for operational effectiveness within an organization.
After the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others, CDO roles proliferated at an exponential rate, some may argue out of need, out of guilt, out of a realization that our country struggles to live up to its own ideals of liberty and justice for all. According to a recent TIME Magazine article, “the number of people with the title “head of diversity” more than doubled, “director of diversity” titles soared 75%, and “chief diversity officer” role rose 68% worldwide.” (Kalita, 2022)
And so has the expectations for the role. CDOs become a stand-in for all things race, all things difference, and many of these individuals who serve in these roles become the company oracle that can solve anything climate and culture an organization may face. The anti-CRT, anti-knowledge movement, as well as the creation of Anti-Woke Legislation has complicated the ways CDOs navigate the new social terrain. And the recent Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, and impending Supreme Court discussion of the import of Affirmative Action in admissions decisions, creates yet another moment where CDOs will need to pivot and innovate.
This proposed volume will provide a space for diversity practitioners to speak about their journeys in this profession. While the framework above provides a glimpse into the daily operational import of the role, this volume seeks to understand the human dynamics of serving in this role, the resolve, commitment, and limitless optimism many CDOs possess to engage this work. We want this edited book to be short, easy to read; encouraging and informed, yet realistic about the various pathways available for DEI practitioners to practice their craft, get into the CDO role, and maintain a sense of wholeness while serving in the role.
Specific areas of interest include:
- Why do you do the work (e.g. how did you get into the work)
- Success/rewards of staying the course of the vision of this work
- Challenges/opportunities: (e.g. wellness and mental health; organizational resources; power dynamics; organizational position alignment; higher education mission; the business supplier and community engagement/partnerships)
- Legacy goals (e.g. sustainability of efforts)
- Lessons learned; words of wisdom
Abstracts of 500 words are due December 1, 2022. Please send abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put Grace for Each Day—CDO in the subject heading. If selected, full essays will be due April 1, 2023 with a word count no longer than 10 pages (about 3000 words including notes). We welcome submissions from those individuals currently serving in this role or its equivalent in higher education, and reflections from those individuals who have transitioned out of this role in higher education but are still engaged in DEI work (e.g. JEDI consultants).
Once we have finalized the table of contents, and writers for this volume, we will confirm a press.
Dr. Carol E. Henderson
Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion| Chief Diversity Officer | Adviser to the President
Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Atlanta, GA 30322. USA