An interesting archive article from the Harvard Business Review (link opens in Microsoft Word). CDOs (chief diversity officers) are expanding their role beyond traditional diversity functions to spur innovation and build revenues for their organizations.
CDOs have a unique awareness of the many talented individuals in their companies and can tap into their expertise for insights and ideas that translate into revenue. For example, Russell Corporation CDO Kevin Clayton "discovered that a large number of Russell employees had graduated from historically black colleges and universities. [His] group used those graduates' input to create products for the Black university market, resulting in an $8 million-to-$10 million deal".
In another instance, "the Hispanic employee affinity group at Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, provided input for a line of guacamole-flavored potato chips, which became a $100 million product."
To maximize the competitive opportunities, companies must allow their CDOs to collaborate with other function leaders (marketing, sales, product development, etc) and perhaps restructure the org chart to have the CDO report directly to the CEO.
Citation: Johansson, F. (2005, October) "Masters of the Multicultural". Harvard Business Review, pp. 18-19.