Making a true commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at your organization is not a fast or easy process. Just like recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and managing employees, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to DEI. At ClearCompany, employees formed a DEI task force that chose to bring in a DEI consultant to evaluate and guide our efforts.
We spoke with our Vice President of People, Angie Wideman-Powell (a recent winner of the HR Rising Star Award) and Learning Manager Isabel Swartz about how ClearCompany reached that decision and the questions we asked along the way. We hope our process for choosing our best-fit consultant partner is a helpful resource in your own organization’s journey toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
DEI Consultant for Critical Outside Perspective
At ClearCompany, the necessity of a consultant became apparent when employees established a DEI task force to assess our efforts and move forward with intention.Thinking about partnering with a #DEI consultant? In today’s blog, see how @ClearCompany chose a consultant to guide our DEI efforts:
“We realized, in order to make sure that we are resourcing this efficiently, effectively, in the best way possible — we really do need to bring in an outside perspective,” Swartz said.
“We needed people who were experts in this space and set some milestones and guideposts for us,” Wideman-Powell added.
“When we had our annual all-staff meeting, the big theme that our executive team had for the company was this concept of landing,” said Swartz. “The launch is always important, but in order for it to be successful, you also need to stick the landing. If we are going to stick the landing with this initiative, we need someone, we need an outside voice to come in and take a look objectively.”
With the choice to hire a consultant made, the task force faced the next challenge of finding a consultant who met our needs and could help us make impactful changes.
Finding the Right DEI Consultant
Here’s a quick breakdown of how we initially decided to hire a DEI consultant and how we ultimately chose to work with consulting firm Change Cadet:
- Determine company needs, including your budget, with the help of a DEI task force.
- Set goals and determine what your organization hopes to achieve by hiring an outside consultant.
- Be thorough and patient during the vetting process.
- Make a lasting, continuous commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Determine Your Company’s Needs Honestly
After determining we needed to hire a DEI consultant, the next steps were to determine what we needed from the consultant’s services and set a budget. Our DEI task force determined that these criteria were a requirement for the consultant we chose, in addition to staying on budget:
- Customized approach
- Executive leadership coaching
- Positive references from similarly-sized organizations
- Brings an underrepresented perspective to ClearCompany
“We were really looking for someone to help us prioritize what we have on our DEI roadmap and be an advisor,” said Wideman-Powell.
“Executive coaching and the roadmap were two big things,” said Swartz, “and an outside perspective.”
The DEI task force emphasized the importance of bringing an underrepresented perspective to the table when it came to choosing our consultant partner.
“Look at the makeup of the leadership team that is going to be working with the consulting firm,” said Swartz, “and be honest with yourself — are they mostly women? Are they mostly men? Are they mostly white? Are they mostly BIPOC? What you're looking for is, can the consultant provide that diverse perspective that perhaps you're missing from leadership?”
“A diversity of perspective is so important in innovation; in entrepreneurship; in creative thinking.” - Isabel Swartz, Learning Manager at ClearCompany
“Diversity is not just about work styles. It's about perspective and your lived experience. And having somebody in that seat with a completely different life experience will bring that perspective and help everyone be able to see these opportunities for inclusivity that I will miss and other people will miss,” said Wideman-Powell.
ClearCompany determined that we needed to find a consultant who offered a custom approach, leadership coaching services, who was positively endorsed by companies of a similar size, and who brought in the perspective we were lacking. With those needs in mind, the next step was to determine what we wanted to achieve and why hiring a consultant was necessary to reach our goals.
Start by Envisioning Outcomes
Before you even begin curating a list of DEI consultants to consider, it’s important to establish what your organization will accomplish with the partnership. This helps ensure that you find the best-fit consultant who understands your company’s challenges, goals, and vision for a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.
At ClearCompany, said Swartz, “We treated the vetting process the same way that we treat the acquisition of any other resource. You start with, ‘What is your end goal?’ ‘What need does the consultant address?’ And, ‘What are the outcomes that you're looking for?’”@ClearCompany is working with @ChangeCadet to help prioritize #DEI roadmapping and making real, lasting change in their company. Read more about the process ClearCompany took for finding the right DEI consultant:
When you know what you want, it’s easier to find. That’s why it’s important to develop a clear vision of your organization’s goals and expectations. Then, your DEI task force and other stakeholders can much more easily determine which consultant fits your criteria.
With our needs determined and outcomes envisioned, ClearCompany began the process of searching for and vetting DEI consulting firms.
Be Thorough and Don’t Rush the Process
A common theme both Wideman-Powell and Swartz reiterated was not to expect to find a consultant overnight. In order to make a good decision and make real progress toward diversity, equity, and inclusion at your organization, patience is key.
“This takes a long time,” Swartz said. “It takes a lot of conversation.”
“We move quickly at ClearCompany, but DEI is fluid and ever-evolving. It should be ongoing vs. a checkmark on a to-do list,” said Wideman-Powell. Even at fast-moving organizations, the choice to hire a DEI consultant shouldn’t be made too quickly. Significant change is years in the making and you don’t want to restart the process of searching for a consultant.
“DEI is fluid and ever-evolving. It should be ongoing vs. a checkmark on a to-do list.” - Angie Wideman-Powell, Vice President of People at ClearCompany
One challenge the task force faced was comparing the performance of the consulting firm candidates. While metrics are a common indicator of performance, companies greatly increased their DEI efforts in 2020, and DEI consultants can’t always point to the numbers. Instead, our task force vetted the consultant’s references, asking for feedback from comparable clients.
Wideman-Powell elaborated on some of the questions that were asked of references: “What value did they get out of working with the consultant? What was the lasting impact? What has changed in your organization? Because of the work that the consultant did, how are they seeing that reflected in their people and their practices?”
It’s important to recognize the importance of the decision being made so it’s not made on the fly. Get testimonials and reviews from as many similar companies as possible when metrics aren’t as readily available so you can be confident that you’re choosing the right DEI consultant.
A Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity is an Ongoing Effort
Creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t instantaneous and it’s not a box to be checked. Because DEI has always been a lifetime commitment for ClearCompany, we set out to understand our needs, set expectations, and carefully consider our options before choosing our consultant partner, Change Cadet.
The process of incorporating DEI into your organization meaningfully is one that takes years. “It’s a journey, not an expectation. It’s constantly evolving,” said Wideman-Powell.
At ClearCompany, we’re committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion because we believe that our people are our most valuable asset. We want a workplace culture that values every person’s perspective and lived experience, especially our most underrepresented groups. That’s why we’ve chosen to partner with DEI consulting firm, Change Cadet, as we strengthen our commitment to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
“A diversity of perspective is so important in innovation; in entrepreneurship; in creative thinking,” Swartz said, noting that “diversity of perspective” includes racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and religious affiliation.
We hope our process for choosing the best-fit DEI consultant can serve as a guide if you’re going the same route. We’re proud to partner with Change Cadet and look forward to welcoming Dr. Akilah Cadet as a speaker at TSC 2021! Join us this September to hear from Dr. Cadet on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.