The Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)™ qualification is 
a diversity leadership program that, regardless of one's title, is designed to innovatively and strategically strengthen an organization's global diversity operations. The credential empowers executives to advance the organization beyond diverse representation towards thought leadership. It was created for leaders who manage or oversee large scale and complex equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. 

Requirements for the CDE credential are as follows: 

  • At least five years of progressive work experience in the field of diversity or Human Resource management
  • A current leadership role as Chief Diversity Officer, Executive Director, President, Vice President/Chancellor, Assistant Vice President/Chancellor, or Director
  • A passing score of at least 80% on the CDE exam
  • Completion of a Candidate Project

“Experience” can be defined as work in the field of diversity, inclusion, or human resources, whether in management, law, compliance, marketing, communications, administration, finance, IT, sales, recruiting, training, strategic planning, consulting, supplier diversity, overseeing Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity programs, or coordinating other diversity initiatives. Serving on a Diversity Council or Resource Group counts toward the requirement.

“A Current Leadership Role” includes those who have terminated employment within the last six (6) months.

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CDE Certification
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This is the next level of forward-
thinking & strategic leadership

  • Self-Study

  • Online
            Oct. 3 - Nov. 30,  2017

  • Classroom Course​
            Instructor: Leah Smiley, CDE
            Sept. 20-22, 2017 | Indianapolis, IN OR
            Nov. 15-17, 2017 | Seattle, WA

  • Up-to-date materials, research & examples
  • 3 preparation options
  • Year-round testing
  • 600+ testing centers
  • ​Accessible from anywhere in the world
  • Internationally recognized credentials
  • Large, global network of designees
  • In process of accreditation


Competency-based education is an approach that emphasizes learning concrete skills rather than abstract concepts. Using this approach, candidates work on one competency at a time, and each unit of learning is focused on specific performance outcomes. 

Candidates may choose the most appropriate study method, but generally, the Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)™ credential covers 16 broad competencies, as identified as key performance indicators by the Institute for Diversity Certification’s Advisory Board. These competencies include:​
Learn About the Core Competencies
The certification test is a broad-based, knowledge exam. As with most standardized tests, scoring high will be a matter of taking the time to adequately prepare. The test consists of 170 multiple choice questions, over two and a half hours. Candidates are encouraged to choose the best possible answer, or the answer that aligns most closely with the study materials.

The cost of each option includes the study guide, online exam review session, the CDE test, and access to IDC's CourseNetworking (CN) channel. The CN channel is a new and exciting learning management system that will empower candidates with greater functionality, integrated learning features, and customized professional development options. This next generation educational platform will transform our global classroom, and your work after the program, by providing access to competency completion badges, supplemental materials including blogs and multimedia videos, social networking with other candidates and designees, and an ePortfolio.

Your ePortfolio will allow you to connect and share information about your credentials. Candidates will be expected to develop a profile, which will allow you to create an impressive and dynamic academic and professional profile for equity, diversity and inclusion work. You can link your profile to other social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, etc. Candidates will be able to determine who sees their information and content with privacy settings.

As of 2017, IDC offers year-round testing. The means that the test will be available any day of the year-- which allows candidates to test whenever they are ready to take their career to the next level. The exam link will be accessible on IDC's CN channel after candidates demonstrate that they have fulfilled the program requirements, which include but are not limited to reading the study guide, participating in the exam review session, and submitting the Candidate Project. Generally, candidates may expect this process to take at least 90 days, unless the candidate takes the classroom-based course, which will allow candidates to complete the program in a shorter time-frame.

Generally, there are 3 ways to prepare for the exam:  

  • Self-study
This option allows you to set your own pace and is an excellent choice for disciplined learners. We recommend reading 1-2 chapters per week until you finish the study guide.

  • Classroom-Based Prep Course
In 2017, classroom-based prep courses will be offered in Indianapolis on April 19-21, 2017; June 7-9, 2017; and September 20-22, 2017. One class will be offered in Seattle, WA on November 15-17, 2017. Leah Smiley, CDE, President of the Society for Diversity, is the instructor. The classroom-based prep-course is 3-days, and it is the only option where your Candidate Project is prepared in class.  See the class agenda

  • Online Prep Course
The final 2017 online prep course is currently scheduled for October 3rd to November 30th. The 2018 prep course schedule will be released in October 2018. Twice a week for eight (8) weeks, candidates may participate in a live online prep course with CDP and CDE designees and 2017 CDE cohorts from around the world. Candidates may ask questions and obtain deeper insight into each competency. They will also learn how diversity and inclusion work differs across organizations, industries, states, countries, etc. The study group will meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00pm (EST), excluding holidays. 
Preparing for the Exam
Candidates will find out their score on the knowledge-based exam at the testing center after completion. The score report will use percentages to indicate which competencies are strengths and which are weaknesses for you. Unsuccessful candidates may re-take the exam by clicking on the "Retest and Exam Changes" page. There is no waiting period to re-take the test.

Candidates will receive notification via e-mail that they have passed the exam and their Candidate Project has been approved. Successful candidates will receive a certificate, press release, and listing in the Institute for Diversity Certification’s online directory of Certified Diversity Executives. Designees should begin using the CDE credentials immediately upon notification of success.

Notification of Exam Results
The great thing about our program is that we provide opportunities for you to acquire continuing education credits by writing blogs, contributing to our curriculum updates every 2 years, leading study group sessions, reviewing candidate projects, facilitating workshop sessions at the Society for Diversity's annual conference, and more! Our program works best when designees contribute to the body of knowledge in the field, and demonstrate leadership in the workplace and community.

You will be able to use our CN channel to access your test scores and online certificate, track recertification credits, connect with other professionals, and access our most recent data and materials.
After the Exam
Test fees and materials are for a one-time sitting. Payment may be made by credit card, check or money order. Groups of 3 or more will receive a 30% discount, while Society for Diversity members receive a 20% discount.

Possessing CDE credentials means that you will have more employment and/or consulting options.  So secure your future today!

Applying to take the CDE exam is easy! Register online now

If you have a group of 10 or more, we can come to you. IDC can facilitate a prep course session at your office, and customize the credentialing program as needed. Nevertheless, your designees will have the same globally recognized credential that all other professionals possess.

Society for Diversity members receive a 20% discount.   Become a member today to receive your instant discount, and credit towards recertification!  

Applying for the Exam
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