Why do you need a D&I expert in the first place?
Before beginning a search for a D&I / EEO expert to join or support your organization you should ask the following questions:
- What are our D&I / EEO goals?
- What resulted from our previous D&I efforts?
- Do we think that we need a full time staff person to take on our D&I/EEO Goals or can an outside consultant sufficiently support our needs?
- Do we know the difference between D&I and HR?
How do you know when someone is a qualified D&I professional?
Great at self-promotion!
Some people are great at telling you how great they are. As I noted in Part I, some people are happy to ‘fake it ‘til they make it’, so you need to find out how great they are in others ways.
- Checking references is a good way to begin. Verifying someone’s track record may seem obvious or simple, but references are rarely checked. Often the recipient thinks, “They gave me the references, so they must be good!” Recently, I checked someone’s references and two of the telephone numbers were disconnected and no one answered the third. Obviously, I did not go with that person.
- Ask for examples of how they have personally and specifically:
- Increased diversity and inclusion at an organization;
- Diminished discriminatory behavior;
- Supported the mission and vision of an organization through D&I strategies
- Measured the results of their efforts
Individuals who have been doing D&I/EEO work successfully for any period of time should be able to share multiple examples of their successful endeavors. You should also ask them about failures. If someone is hesitant to provide you with examples on the spot, beware.
A Multidisciplinary Field
Since D&I is multi-disciplinary, practitioners may have bachelor’s degrees in various fields of study, including: Human Resources Management, Business Management, Public Administration, Organizational Development, or as in my case, American Studies, an interdisciplinary degree. Also, graduate degrees such as in Law (Juris Doctor), and a wide range of human relations fields are appropriate. Many practitioners, who have not gone to graduate school, have been grandmothered-in by engaging in ongoing professional development and obtaining certifications at institutions such as, Cornell University. I recommend that you be prepared to examine the skills and competencies that individuals have developed and how they have applied those skills and competencies in the past. Facilitating a 60 minute webinar is not the same as developing and facilitating a 5 day workshop on inclusive leadership. So, a resume or bio with “Training” as a bulleted item does not provide sufficient information. Ask for details.
When Passion Meets Purpose
Passion alone does not qualify anyone to as a D&I practitioner, but being very passionate about it is one of the requisites for success. Ask potential consultants or employees why they are in this field. Did their response excite you about D&I? If not, they most likely will not excite your executive leadership, stakeholders or employees. If they do not excite people about D&I, it is doubtful that they will be able to create or sustain inclusion.
If you do not have someone who you can trust to lead your organization on a successful D&I mission, isn’t it about time that you do?