Choosing the Right DEI Partner
More than ever, organizations understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Budget allocations for DEI support are increasing and with it a demand for DEI experts.. The DEI industry is growing quickly and it’s hard to know how to weigh your options when it comes to choosing a partner in this work.
While there may be no one “right” partner, 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. Take the time to talk with them and consider how you feel about working with them.
We’ve developed some guiding principles and questions to help you make an informed decision in choosing a DEI partner to help you create real change that your employees can feel.
Consider their overall approach to organizational and staff development, especially as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.
What is their approach to staff support and development?
In which principles do they ground support and development? Who/what influences their work, understanding of and approach to DEI?
How do you structure development? What might a day of training look and feel like for you as a client?
Do they have experience in and strong results from training individuals virtually? What metrics do they use to measure impact?
How do they address strategy, learning and outcomes in development? What are their criteria for success?
While their beliefs do not need to perfectly align with yours, there should be general synergy between you. Any differences or challenges you experience should enhance your work together, as opposed to hindering progress.
What beliefs drive their work?
How do those beliefs influence their actions, approach and recommendations?
Who can we talk with that could share how those beliefs drove your actions?
What is their philosophy about keeping people in or pushing people out? Do they believe that there are individuals who don’t belong in an organization? Why or why not?
You know that you need additional expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion for change to happen. You should understand how your partner will support you in that change and on what timeline. Listen for honest answers — if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What is their approach to creating change?
What does the change process look like with organizations they support?
What timeline do they typically recommend to clients for an initial engagement?
How do they support leaders or organizations in crisis situations? How does this compare to and complement iongoing support?
How do they support individuals’ growth and change? What rate of change is appropriate?
Diversity, equity and inclusion work should not only focus on changing mindsets, but on changing actions. Those actions should lead to tangible, measurable results for your organization.
What data do they base their r recommendations on? What models will they use to make meaning of that data?
What changes can we expect to see?
What shifts should we anticipate seeing in our outcomes and data?
Do they offer technology and data solutions that will help us continue to monitor, push and celebrate our growth?
While it is unlikely that any one partner will have experience in every industry or with every sized organization, you want to ensure that they are able to translate their experience into strong experiences with your organization and team. They should be able to confidently support executives, managers and front-line staff and be nimble in adapting to your company’s unique dynamics and business.
What experience leading organizations do their leaders and facilitators have?
Have the leaders, facilitators and coaches been executives themselves? In what capacities have they experienced supporting executives?
What size organizations have the leaders, facilitators and coaches supported?
How will their experiences with other clients translate and inform our work if we were to partner?
When and why did they start doing DEI work?
You will have feelings and gut reactions to potential partners that shouldn’t be dismissed. ABefore moving forward with finalizing your DEI partnership, check in with yourself on an emotional level.
Do you feel appropriate levels of challenge and comfort?
Will your leadership and your organization be enhanced by this partnership?
Did you feel the level of trust and care needed to be vulnerable and lay the foundation for your learning?
What does your gut say about leaning in and trusting their vision and direction? Will they be good guides?