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Chief Diversity Officer as Connector-in-Chief

By Junish Arora, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

One of the roles of the Chief Diversity Officer is to connect Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) in an effort to build a more optimal workforce and a thriving workplace culture. However, there are many other partners and stakeholders and for DEIA efforts to be successful, it must be owned by everyone. This became abundantly clear when we recently embarked on the journey of creating an Equity (DEIA) stakeholder map at DOC. The map illustrated a universe of individuals and entities, but only some of them were on the Department’s organization chart. The mapping then morphed into more of a relationship chart than a traditional organization chart, as there were so many discrete, disparate individuals, and institutions that touch DEIA. 

My job as “Connector-in-Chief” is to ensure that all stakeholders are accurately captured and build communication vehicles to ensure coordination and collaboration.  As CDO, my job is to connect and:  

  • Sync the Government-wide DEIA Strategic Plan to the DOC DEIA Strategic Plan as well as the five DEIA Plans of the largest bureaus
  • Unify 13 bureaus and balance the needs of larger bureaus with dedicated DEIA resources and smaller offices with limited budgets, staff, and contracts
  • Build a unified, coherent governance structure that connects the Departmental Equity (DEIA) Council to the 15 bureaus DEIA Councils 
  • Link External Equity (Service Delivery) to Internal DEIA (Workforce and Workplace)
  • Ensure we have Measurement (Data Integrity and Data Visualization) and Infrastructure (Accountability and Sustainability) 
  • Create a two-way communication channel between the 120+ employee resource groups and leadership 

Ideally, this all forms an interconnected, linked DEIA community of practice that has the requisite DEIA capacity to carry the workload and the DEIA competency to execute at an elevated level with cutting-edge practices. As the CDO and Connector-in-Chief, I connect the many individuals and organizations that work for our greater DEIA program and nurture our collective responsibility to allow fluid perspectives and lived experiences to inform our decision-making, problem-solving, and goal-setting.