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61% of employees believe diversity and inclusion strategies are beneficial and essential.

(Ryba, 2020)

With DEI being so important to people, hiring a DEI consultant to help you identify and implement DEI work can go a long way to making your organization a better and more attractive place to work.

I consult with organizations to help them make HR, and other business operations, more accessible and inclusive. I do this by providing workshops and training on initiatives such as an accessible recruitment process and supporting people with disabilities.

This article will inform you about what a DEI Consultant is, how they can benefit your organization, how to know you are ready for one, and how to go about hiring one.

This is important because there’s a lot that goes into choosing a DEI consultant that’s right for your company, and this will hopefully provide important insights you must consider before hiring someone to work on the complex problems innate within DEI work. 

What is a DEI Consultant?

DEI consultants help organizations create more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces to ensure increased employee engagement and help foster innovation. A DEI consultant can help you to:

  1. Identify and hone your DEI goals
  2. Help convey the importance of having DEI training and help you implement effective training on DEI issue
  3. Evaluate and assess your DEI work.

How can a DEI consultant benefit your business?

Hiring a DEI consultant can help you to:

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Meet Your Goals

DEI initiatives should be implemented to aid the overall organization’s goals. A DEI consultant can help HR, managers, and executives understand the organization’s DEI goals and how they relate to the overall organizational goals.

For example, committing to hiring more diverse candidates should contribute to the organization’s goal of reducing turnover. Hyatt Hotels was among the top five workplaces for diversity, and the company that awarded this found that leading employers had substantially lower turnover.

Another goal could be to increase employee development and engagement levels. A DEI consultant could identify that, due to the lack of inclusivity and diversity in the organization, engagement levels are low and people feel like the company only develops certain types of team members.

They can then help administer training around these topics, ensuring everyone is included to increase engagement. They’d also likely look at the type of people who are put in positions to be developed and how to ensure everyone in the organization has the resources to grow within the company.

Another goal that most companies have is to increase innovation. Innovation comes from diverse thinking. Therefore, having a consultant to educate on how to foster diversity and inclusion has been shown to also lead to greater innovation. It’s also been found that more cognitively diverse teams solve problems faster.

Help You Move Towards An Inclusive Culture

help you move towards an inclusive culture graphic

As well as tackling specific issues, a DEI consultant can help shift your company to a more inclusive culture overall. 

This means helping you understand how employees feel about the organization’s culture, and helping to break down barriers to understanding the underlying issues surrounding DEI within your organization.

This information will aid you in fostering a culture where everyone feels included through their expertise in DEI by looking at your recruitment process, policies and procedures, and day-to-day way of things. 

How do you know if you’re ready for a DEI consultant?

You’re probably ready for a DEI consultant if:

  1. Your organization has started considering doing DEI work but doesn’t know where to start.
  2. Diversity training has started but hasn’t been working effectively
  3. Employees are complaining about the lack of an inclusive culture
  4. You’re using your team members from diverse backgrounds to educate on DEI issues when they aren’t trained to do so
  5. There was a major incident or minor incidents surrounding DEI.

How to hire a DEI consultant?

So you can see the benefits and think you’re ready to hire a DEI consultant. Here’s what to consider when hiring a DEI consultant for your organization:

The needs of your organization

For a DEI consultant to be successful, you need to be clear about your needs. This ensures they know the full scope of what they need to execute and help implement.

If you’re not sure about this, you can get a clearer understanding of your specific needs by asking your employees formally in a survey what they think of your culture around DEI, as well as looking at your DEI metrics e.g. employee demographics, turnover, and retention rates of ERGs.

The consultant’s experience

First and foremost, the consultant you hire should understand the issues within DEI. It’s a complex field, so it’s important that the consultant you work with has a deep understanding and awareness of the main problem and how to address this problem in the workplace. 

There are a lot of specifics, but it’s important that they know theories, issues, and how to educate and consult on these things.

DEI experience to look out for (not comprehensive):

  • Previous experience providing DEI insights (ideally in your industry)
  • Creating an inclusive culture 
  • Using and implementing systems and programs
  • Leveraging their lived experience
  • Conducting and implementing DEI training 
  • Aiding in the implementation of DEI strategy.

A red flag is when the DEI expert claims that they are the expert and they know everything when no one truly knows everything.

It’s also important that the DEI Consultant has a good and solid plan and proposal to present to you and other leaders assigned the task of hiring them. 

This is to see if they can create a plan and showcase that they have a working knowledge of the issues you are looking at having them address once hired. 

Lastly, they should be able to demonstrate the ability to communicate with different and diverse stakeholders. They have to be able to take what they know of DEI and communicate with different folks in ways they can understand, and for your particular company and industry.

To gauge this, you should inquire about their knowledge about DEI issues and, ideally, they should show you a case study, or show clear examples, of previous experience showcasing their ability to speak to the various stakeholders involved.

Costs and Expenses

A DEI Consultant can be expensive which is why before hiring them it’s important to understand the scope of work they need to undertake in your organization. 

With this, you and the consultant can negotiate a price. Let’s look at the numbers and the range for hourly rates, shall we? 

Years of ExperienceHourly Rates

This is an average basis of what most consultants charge per hourly rate based on their level of experience, but understand it could look higher or lower depending on the depth and level of the expertise.

Next Steps

I highly encourage you to look at your organization to see where you’re doing well with regards to DEI space and where you could improve.

Remember, it’s OK not to know it all; it’s important to start the work, and continue to ask questions, as well educate yourself on these DEI issues and social issues. 

Hiring a DEI consultant can help you better understand your organization and meet your goals.

Some DEI Issues to Educate Yourself On (Not Comprehensive) 

Further resources to help you with your DEI work

Sydney Elaine Butler
By Sydney Elaine Butler

Sydney is the Founder, as well as a Freelance Accessibility and Neurodiversity Speaker and Consultant at Accessible Creates. Their professional purpose is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be successful regardless of barriers in their way. They have since started speaking and consulting other companies on how to be more accessible and inclusive and how to empower and recruit more diverse individuals through lens of intersectionality and other areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.