Fractional Leadership: Bridging the Gap in Diversity and Inclusion (Steve Winkler)

From a purely capitalist standpoint, diversity in corporate leadership drives better financial performance. Don't take my word for it: McKinsey & Company analyzed the financial performance of companies with diverse leadership teams and found that companies in the top quartile for ethnically and racially diverse leadership teams were 35% more likely to outperform peer companies in profitability.

As someone who has built and led diverse teams, I have experienced the benefits of people who come from different backgrounds, cultures, and educational backgrounds. I was fortunate to work in a business that valued and prioritized diversity. Not every leader is as lucky as me to have worked in an environment that is set up for success with the framework and principles of DE&I integrated into the culture.

For some companies on the rise, or even scaled global enterprises, hiring a full-time Chief Diversity Officer might not be feasible. So, is there a way to achieve DE&I leadership without a full-time investment? Yes.

The Essence of Fractional Leadership

So, what's the big deal with fractional leadership? Simply put, it offers executive expertise without the full-time cost, providing strategic flexibility, financial efficiency, and promoting diversity within teams. It's a cost-effective solution for early-stage companies seeking top-tier talent.

Why Fractional CDOs are Game Changers

Fractional Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) strategically integrate diversity and inclusion to align with business objectives and culture. They ensure every voice is heard, weaving diversity into the organization's fabric. Their goal is to cultivate a diverse workforce that is valued, developed, and retained. Regardless of a business's stage, a fractional CDO adds crucial value, especially if diversity, equity, and inclusion are important values.

Breaking Barriers and Opening Doors

Let's address long-standing barriers.

Part-time work isn't only for hourly or unskilled labor—it often exists due to insufficient need for full-time roles. Therefore, Fractional CDOs offer a flexible leadership solution, promoting diversity across various dimensions. This is why, in most cases, companies are reevaluating degree requirements, recognizing that qualities like character and experience are key indicators of success.

Fractional CDO roles create opportunities for diverse leadership, enriching decision-making and problem-solving.

The beauty of fractional leadership, especially when it comes to roles like fractional CDOs, lies in its practical, results-oriented approach. Companies embracing this model have witnessed tangible improvements in retention, recruitment, and strategic leadership, all at a fraction of the cost. This is a new era, and the attention and action on this area of leadership growth show that it is a significant concern.

What's not to love? These leaders bring a level of flexibility and expertise that allows businesses to address specific needs with precision and care while designing their schedules to deliver maximum impact.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you are on the hiring side or the talent side of the business, a shift to fractional leadership opens up opportunities to work with people and do unique things that would otherwise be challenging if a full-time leader were needed.

Regardless of how media and politics have positioned the topics of diversity and inclusion, the facts and data supporting their benefits are clear. A fractional CDO could help shape the right policies and structures to build stronger, more profitable businesses.

Adopting fractional leadership, particularly in diversity and inclusion, reflects a progressive approach in today's dynamic business landscape. It involves utilizing diverse skills and perspectives to build stronger leadership teams.

The importance of fractional leadership in promoting diversity and inclusion is undeniable, setting a new standard for impactful leadership.


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