How do I choose the right DEI partner for my company?
More than ever, organizations understand the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Budget lines for support in DEI are increasing and quick decisions often need to be made. As a result, the DEI industry is growing quickly and, as it does, it’s hard to know how to judge your options. (Who’s good at this? What is “this,” actually?)
While there is no one “right” partner for every organization, choosing the wrong partner can set your company back years - and choosing a strong partner can dramatically accelerate your work. We encourage you to consider each potential partner’s approach, beliefs, orientation to change-management, focus on data, and experience. And, once you’re done with that, to dig in and consider how you feel. (Yes, emotions are part of this. Strange and true.)
We offer a few principles and questions you can ask a potential DEI partner so you can make an informed decision, avoid missteps, and work efficiently towards changes that your employees can feel.
Consider their overall approach to organizational development, especially as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What is your approach to support and development?
In which principles do you ground your support and development? Who/what influences your work?
How do you approach development? What might a day of training look and feel like for your clients?
Do you have strong results training individuals virtually? What metrics do you use?
How do you address strategy, learning, and outcomes in your overall approach? What are your criteria for success?
While their beliefs do not need to perfectly align with yours, there should be general synergy between you both. The differences /friction you might feel should enhance your work together, as opposed to leading to impasses.
What beliefs drive your work?
How do those actions influence your approach and your recommendations?
Who can we talk with that could share how those beliefs drove your actions?
Do you believe that there are individuals who don’t belong in an organization? Why or why not?
You’re looking for additional expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion because you know that change needs to happen. You should understand how your partner will support you in that change and on what timeline. And, you should be gut-checking answers. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What is your approach to creating change?
What does the change process look like with organizations you support?
What timeline do you typically recommend to clients? Why?
How do you support leaders or organizations in crisis situations? How is this similar or different to ongoing support?
How do you support individuals’ change? What rate of change do you think is appropriate? Why?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion work should not only focus on changing mindsets, it should change actions. And, those actions should lead to tangible, measurable results for your organization.
What data will you root your recommendations in? What models will you use to make meaning of that data?
What changes would we hope to see? How will we know if this change is happening?
What should we anticipate in regards to shifts in our outcomes/data?
Do you have technology that will help us continue to monitor, push, and celebrate our growth?
It’s unreasonable to expect that your partner will have experience in every industry or with every sized organization. You do, however, want to ensure that the experience they bring can confidently support executives, managers, and front-line staff and that they are able to translate their experience with former clients into strong experiences with your organization.
What experience leading organizations do your leaders/facilitators have?
Have the leaders/facilitators/coaches in your company been executive, themselves? Have they stood in the fire and experienced holding ultimate responsibility?
What size organizations have the leaders/ facilitators/coaches in your company supported?
How will your experiences with other clients translate/inform our work if we were to partner?
When and why did you start doing this work?
There are intangibles that shouldn’t be overlooked. You should ask yourself these questions before moving forward with finalizing your DEI partnership.
Do you feel appropriate levels of challenge and comfort?
Will your leadership and your organization be enhanced?
Are you experiencing a level of trust and care that lay the foundation for your learning?
What does your gut say about leaning in, trusting the vision and direction of this group, are their answers satisfying you or confusing to you? Do you feel less worried about the future of this work in your company? Are they good-enough guides?