Most employers agree diversity is important, yet often struggle with what that means — in concrete terms — for their businesses. We know that numerous studies point to improved talent retention at companies that embrace diversity, and a recent study by Boston Consulting Group also found that innovation revenue increases by 19 percent at companies with diverse leadership teams, so the business case for inclusion is clear. Where organizations find themselves stumbling, however, is identifying areas for improvement and implementing those changes.
That's where diversity consultants can help. Before we dive into exploring how a diversity consultant can help, see if your organization displays any of these signs.
Signs your company needs diversity help:
A diversity consultant adds value to your organization regardless of whether your company has any of the issues listed below. That said, if you find that one or more of the following statements do apply to your company, you'll want to make working with a diversity expert a priority.
- You don't track diversity and inclusion data, such as the number of diverse employees in leadership positions, diverse employee turnover rate and hiring and candidate percentages.
- Your diverse employees have a higher turnover rate than the rest of your staff.
- You have trouble recruiting diverse candidates.
- You lack an employer branding initiative around diversity in your organization.
- You don't have employee resource groups, such as organizations for women, people of color or LBGTQ employees.
- Your workforce is homogenous.
- You don't have a balanced leadership team.
- Diversity and inclusion aren't included in your brand values or mission.
- Your products or services haven't been evaluated for diversity initiatives.
What is a diversity consultant?
Diversity consultants help organizations identify and implement diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. Often individuals with human resource management backgrounds, these professionals serve as an objective information source for a company that wants to learn where they have room for improvement in their D&I efforts.
At the moment, no official certifications or degrees in this field exist. Reputable consultants will have experience in the field and testimonials as well as references you can speak to in order to gauge whether they're a fit for your company.
What can you expect from a consultant?
While every consultant will have their own approach, in general, one of the initial steps will be identifying your company's goals for D&I. An experienced consultant can also help you craft those if you don't have a known objective like increasing the diversity in your C-suite to 35%.
After identifying your company's goals, a consultant may conduct an audit or assessment to better understand your organization. This could mean employee surveys, observations of affinity group meetings, reviews of interview practices and management tactics. You'll likely be asked to share data concerning the demographics of your workforce, recruitment statistics, retention numbers, board makeup and leadership composition. Since you'll be expected to share sensitive and private company information, most consultants will be more than willing to sign an NDA (and if they're not, you'll want to reconsider working with them).
From the data gathered by the audit, your consultant should create a strategy that maps how to reach your identified goals from where your company currently stands. This could mean recommendations for a number of initiatives. For example, if your company falls short on diversity hiring, the recommendation may be to widen your recruitment pool by reaching out to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), or, to work with recruiters in different areas of the country, or to change the language included on job postings or your interview structure and format, or to try a blind application process.
After presenting the strategy, the consultant will discuss how to move forward. Some companies opt to keep the implementation in house, and will pass the recommendations over to an internal human resource management team; or, they'll engage the consultant to oversee and spearhead the proposed strategy. What you choose to do ultimately depends on your company's budget and objectives.
How do you become a diversity consultant?
Most diversity consultants have experience in human resource management, talent acquisition, operations or organizational psychology. Gaining experience in one or more of those fields, through education and experience, will help you gain the expertise required for the career. If you're in the early stages of your professional life but would like to move toward diversity consulting, get experience by volunteering for the D&I initiatives at your organization. That could mean joining employee resource or affinity groups, or volunteering to start one at your organization. At the very least, you can start reading industry
What about diversity training?
While quarterly or annual diversity training can be helpful if your company lacks awareness and knowledge about diversity best practices, it's not a sufficient D&I strategy. Companies that believe a one-time training, which is often administered through online platforms or with a slideshow, are fooling themselves if they believe it'll result in any systemic change. Leadership buy-in and robust initiatives at all levels of the company, from recruitment to the C-suite, is required for a viable and sustainable diverse company.
How do I find a diversity consultant?
That's where we come in. Fairygodboss works with more than one hundred companies, from Fortune 500 powerhouses like HP, IBM and GE, to startups like Asana, Squarespace and Magic Leap to help attract female talent to your open positions.
Let our diversity consultants walk you through our hand-crafted solutions. Send us your contact info and we'll be in touch to discuss your company's needs.