Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® Exam

The Key to Sustainability and Better Results


Nikeya Diversity Consulting is an official licensee of the Institute for Diversity Certification’s (IDC) world renowned Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® diversity credentials. Regardless of one’s title, the CDE® qualification credential is designed to strategically position an organization to remove systemic barriers to inclusion, lead culture change and transform the brand.

The CDE® credential challenges conventional equity and diversity work, and reinforces the need for organizations to lead inclusion from the top. The CDE® track is a great program for accomplished leaders seeking to demonstrate cultural competence and increase their credibility in the field of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The program is not based on one’s title; it is designed for practitioners who support more advanced, complex or global ED&I efforts. Further, the CDE® is ready to remove systemic barriers such as bias or blind spots, and you seek to diversify more than your workforce. For example, the CDE may focus on diversifying the Board, suppliers, products/services, and more. The credential empowers executives to advance the organization beyond diverse representation towards thought leadership.

The CDE® requires at least five (5) years of experience and a current leadership role (irrespective of one’s title), both of which can be demonstrated in a variety of different ways.

Definitions of Leadership and Experience

“Experience” can be defined as work in the field of diversity, Affirmative Action/EEO, multicultural affairs, human resources, organizational development, management, legal, multi-cultural marketing and communications, sales, recruiting, training, strategic planning, supplier diversity, consulting, or volunteering for a diversity council or resource group.

“A Current Leadership Role” includes those who have terminated employment within the last six (6) months. Candidates may manage a department/division, aspire to manage a department/division, lead a resource group or diversity council, and may or may not have direct reports.

Eligibility for the CDE® Credential:

  • At least 5 years of experience
  • A current leadership role
  • A passing score of 80% or better on the knowledge-based exam
  • Completion of a Candidate Project

See the Competencies

What Is a Candidate Project?

Completion of a “Candidate Project” meets the additional experience requirements for each credential. Please note, the Candidate Project results are separate and independent of the knowledge-based exam scores (i.e., a passing score in one will not offset the other). Candidates must pass both portions in IDC’s credentialing process.

Candidates will be required to complete a project before 12:00 p.m. on their exam date. Your Candidate Project must be submitted online in the Learning Management System (LMS). You will be notified in the LMS as to whether you passed the Candidate Project within one (1) week of submission. You may submit your project as early as you choose, but late projects will not be accepted.

Projects will be evaluated for thoroughness, accuracy, and impact. The project must be the candidate’s own work and have been completed within the last year.

Peer Review of a Professional Work

The Candidate Project is peer-reviewed, which means that a current CDP® or CDE® designee will review the professional work and determine if the project meets the criteria for a certified diversity executive.

The Reviewer will evaluate the project based on four (4) criteria. Is the work:

  • Usable?
  • Realistic?
  • Intentional?
  • Meaningful?

Should the Candidate pass the knowledge-based exam but the professional work is not approved, the credentials will not be conferred until the Candidate successfully fulfills all requirements.

The intent of the review process is to ensure that Candidates demonstrate excellence, as well as receive the necessary feedback to make clear progress, or indicate bottom-line impact through D&I. If the project is unsuccessful, the Candidate will receive written qualitative feedback from the Reviewer in the LMS. Candidates must re-submit the project with the recommended changes. Upon re-submission, the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC)® will send the project to a different peer reviewer. There is no fee to resubmit a Candidate Project.

For the CDE® credential, as a “Candidate Project” you may rate and assess your organization’s and a competitor’s current diversity efforts, spearhead a research project that would contribute to the body of knowledge in the field, or submit any other usable project that is relevant to your professional work.

Facts & Features


170-Question, Multiple Choice, Online Exam for up to 2.5 Hours
Knowledge-Based, Standardized Test
Proctored Testing Centers Accessible from Anywhere in the World
Year-Round Testing

Large, Global Network of Candidates & Designees
​Globally Recognized Credentials
Credentials Valid for 3-Years
Post-Exam Requires 60 Continuing Education Credits Every 3 Years + Recertification Fee

Certified Diversity Professional (CDP)® and Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® are Registered Trademarks of the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC)®, used under license.