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Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Fortune 500 firms have been scrambling to hire chief diversity officers in response to racial justice protests in the year since George Floyd's death — but just filling that seat isn't enough.

The big picture: Companies' top diversity executives too often lack the power or resources to effect real change, and many get frustrated, leading to constant churn. But firms will have to figure out the role of CDO if they want to attract new talent and customers, experts say.

  • "If you want to be a competitive company in ten years, you have to have this role," says Mita Mallick, an expert on diversity and inclusion at corporations.

By the numbers: Diversity job postings are surging.

  • The number of people with the title "head of diversity" jumped 104% from 2015 to 2020, per LinkedIn data. And the number of people with the "chief diversity officer" title increased 68% in that same period.
  • The U.S. is still behind other nations, with 0.73 diversity and inclusion employees for every 10,000, compared with the U.K.'s 1.93 and Australia's 1.04, according to LinkedIn's analysis.

But, but, but: The role of CDO — and the field of diversity and inclusion — is still a new one. And those stepping into the job face hurdle after hurdle.

  • “You’re dealing with polarizing topics, and these topics and issues are very nuanced," Joy Fitzgerald, the CDO of Eli Lilly, told the WSJ. "There are not a lot of best practices you can point to that are easy or quick.”
  • Often, CDOs lack access to the CEO or other executives, which makes it difficult for them to do their jobs. And many of them have difficulty getting the data they need to pinpoint issues within companies.

“It can‘t just be about HR,” says Anuradha Hebbar, the former head of diversity at Verizon who now leads the consulting firm Kincentric’s DEI practice. “It’s the whole business strategy,” from making sure the firm‘s culture promotes equity to making sure the company is marketing to consumers in an inclusive way.

  • “The changes CDOs have to make are systemic. And they’re often met with resistance when trying to do that,” Hebbar says. As a result, many CDOs find themselves running one-off diversity trainings for staff, which don’t accomplish much.
  • Top companies, like Morgan Stanley, have had CDOs leave and express frustration over not being able to effect change.
  • "When you have this expectation that this one person is going to come in with a magic wand and fix this, it’s a lot of pressure," Mallick says. "One person and one person alone can’t do it."

The bottom line: Putting diversity and inclusion officers in the C-suite isn't just the right thing to do, diversity experts say. It's also a business necessity.

  • The purchasing power of Americans of color has swelled to $4 trillion, Mallick says. And companies that don't hire diverse workforces will fall behind when appealing to an increasingly diverse population of consumers.

Go deeper:

Crime jumps after court-ordered police changes

The slow moves to improve police training

Police recruiting suffers as morale hits new lows

Go deeper

Police recruiting suffers as morale hits new lows

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Police departments across the country are struggling to attract applicants after a year of racial justice protests against police use of excessive force and calls for police reform dampened morale within the profession.

Why it matters: Recruiting deficits add strain to existing forces and could increase costs through overtime or employee burnout, per the International Association of Chiefs of Police. And if Americans want better police forces, city officials say, this isn't the way to get them.

Updated 32 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.