Updated: Oct 31, 2022
It has become increasingly common for organizations to seek an outside diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant. These experts provide an objective perspective of what is working within the organization. They analyze the current efforts, make suggestions and help implement new strategies all with the goal to achieve successful diversity, equity and inclusion. On top of that, it has been proven that more diverse companies are higher performing, having a 2.5 times larger cash flow per employee according to BuiltIn. Essentially, they are the sounding board and the strategic mind behind the organization's DEI efforts. Here are a few key things to consider before hiring a DEI consultant.
1. What’s the vision?
Before opening your browser and searching for a consultant, have an idea of what you hope to achieve with the help of a DEI consultant. What are you currently struggling with the most? Is it diversity, equity, or inclusion? All three? Maybe just one or two.
It’s also good to have an idea of the company’s future vision, long term goals, and current DEI position, as they will (or at least should) ask questions related to this during the initial consultation.
2. Intersectionality is vital.
In order to create an inclusive workplace, intersectionality must be a part of it. According to Zippa, 81.3% of Chief Diversity Officers are white, and 45.5% are men. DEI consultants and CDOs must be able to understand and talk about the different experiences and barriers that people of color face. Not to mention, that by not having a diverse management team, companies are losing out on 19% revenue.
For example, a white woman may experience sexism based on her gender, but she will not have the same experiences as an Asian woman, who can face racism and sexism. Suppose the consultant you plan to hire does not have those experiences or does not partner with someone who does - ask yourself how they can provide those perspectives. And then ask them.
In today’s market, there’s no shortage of DEI consultants. You want (and need) someone with the proper education and real-life experience who can teach DEI in an approachable and engaging way. Do not accept race or gender as a credential. Ask about their background, approach to challenges, development of solutions, conflict management, etc.
While every industry has a DEI problem, every company has a different organizational culture. When seeking a consultant, ask how they will personalize their knowledge to help solve your specific DEI challenge. Finding someone who customizes a DEI strategy and plans based on your organization's goals and needs is essential, so don’t rush this part.
5. Find the right fit for your organization.
Many DEI consultants have specific areas of expertise - from one-off events such as workshops or training to long-term commitments such as strategic business alignment, DEI culture audits, brand development, etc. Either way, find a diversity consultant that aligns with your business goals.
All in all, the best advice we can give you is to ask questions. Lots of questions. Ask questions about them, your organization, how they’ll help you achieve your DEI goals, and more. You’re more likely to find a consultant to help you address your DEI challenges and have a good working relationship.