In February, it was announced that Julie Coffman, a partner in Bain Chicago, has been appointed Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). Julie Coffman currently serves as the global head of Bain’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practice. The DEI practice partners with its clients to design and implement their own DEI strategies and efforts. As a long-time leader in Bain’s Organization practice, she is particularly well suited to lead Bain’s DEI efforts. But why make this move now? And what – if anything – does this mean for Bain moving forward?
Why Did Bain Consider Now the Right Time to Create the CDO Role?
For those that have followed the firm closely, it is no secret that Bain has been at the forefront of DEI issues for decades. The firm launched its first affinity groups – Blacks at Bain and its LGBTQ network – almost 30 years ago. It was around this time that it made gender diversity a long-term strategic priority. More recently, groups such as Asians at Bain, Latinx at Bain, and Veterans at Bain have also been launched. These groups support recruiting through mentorship, connectivity events, and professional development workshops.
But last summer, Black Lives Matter protests swept the nation in response to the death of George Floyd. At the same time, it was becoming clear that the economic effects of the pandemic were particularly acute for the socioeconomically disadvantaged, many of whom are disproportionately represented by those of diverse racial backgrounds. Around this time, Bain made a number of public commitments to doing what it could to improve racial equity and promote social justice. As a result, Bain created a global DEI Council to work with its Board of Directors to ensure DEI values were a central theme within its broader business strategy. It also committed $100M in pro bono work focused on racial equity and social justice.
In this context, Bain and Company decided it was time to create an executive level position responsible for stewarding its internal and external efforts at improving diversity.
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What Will Having a Chief Diversity Officer Mean for Bain Moving Forward?
This move continues the momentum for Bain’s execution against its global change agenda. The placement of Coffman as Chief Diversity Officer will keep partners and employees honest as they build a diverse firm and make commitments to allyship. Many change efforts are well planned but lack the top-down sponsorship and resources needed to succeed. Julie Coffman’s new role is a meaningful step in the right direction for the firm’s DEI initiatives, and serves as a model for other organizations to follow.
As Chief Diversity Officer, Bain’s Julie Coffman will be ultimately responsible for executing Bain’s bold DEI aspirations. It’s an important step for the firm and demonstrates what Bain is prioritizing. Expect to see more opportunities in Bain’s DEI practice in the coming months and years, as it – and many other consulting firms – put more resources behind Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
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