GUIDE 2023

How to Become a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant

There is no quick way to become a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant. People from this career path come from various backgrounds, including a bachelor’s degree in business administration, psychology, human resource management, and marketing. 

What is common in all these people is that they have mastered a handful of hard skills – including emotional intelligence, the ability to be strategic, building organizational development, and being able to deliver training and coaching – as well as the essential soft skills an Inclusion and Diversity Consultant needs, including rapport building, courage, empowering others, communication and persuasion skills, and especially empathy.

The good news is that if you aim to become a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, the hard skills are straightforward to learn, though they require dedicated study. Unfortunately, the soft skills that set the most successful consultants apart can take longer to master – but these can be developed naturally while working in a wide range of fields.

Here are five steps to becoming a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant:

Step 1: Learn Diversity and Inclusion Fundamentals

To become a professional diversity and inclusion consultant, you must understand the role. Diversity and inclusion consultants aid workplaces become more inclusive by providing training, coaching, and other services. They also work with individuals to help them better understand their own biases and how they can overcome them to create a more welcoming environment for all employees.

For many, enrolling in a course and getting a certification is the most effective way to learn D&I skills. In such a learning environment, you can be sure you are covering all the basics while avoiding wasted time, with continuous feedback from an instructor to help keep you on track.

D&I consultant is a lucrative job as it helps create and implement diversity training programs for workers to help them comprehend diversity issues and build a more inclusive workplace culture. It also assists companies in developing and implementing policies to promote diversity and working alongside human resources management and diversity initiatives within an organization, such as designing and implementing diversity training programs or developing policies related to diversity.  

In a D&I course, you can learn how to conduct audits of the firm’s current practices and policies to identify areas for improvement. You can consult the management about developing strategies to increase diversity within the organization’s workforce. The Diversity and Inclusion certification can help you assess an organization’s culture and recommend changes to the hiring practices and procedures to ensure that candidates are fairly considered based on their qualifications rather than their race or gender.

Step 2: Get Familiar With the Role

To become a D&I Consultant, you need to learn how to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices in promotional or hiring processes to make sure that all candidates are judged fairly based on their credentials rather than their gender or race.

They also need to consult with management to develop strategies to improve the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts within an organization.

Once you are familiar with the role, there are multiple ways to advance in your career as a diversity and inclusion consultant. You can move up internally within your organization, take on more responsibility, or start your own consulting business. You can also specialize in a niche, such as race relations or gender equity. As you gain expertise, you can charge more for your services and be more selective about the clients you work with.

Step 3: Study The Trends

Here are three trends that influence the work of diversity and inclusion consultants. Diversity and inclusion consultants must stay updated on these developments to keep their skills fresh and possess an advantage in the organization.

Need for Diversity and Inclusion Training

The need for training is becoming more and more important in the industry world. Businesses now realize that a diverse workforce leads to better results, allowing companies to understand their customers and market better.

As diversity and inclusion become more important, consultants specializing in this career will be in building demand. They will help businesses create practical training programs that boost diversity and inclusion within the firm.

Cultural Competency

Cultural competency is an undeniable skill for experts working in global industries. It involves being sensitive and understanding the cultural differences between people from varying backgrounds.

Inclusion and diversity consultants can utilize this trend by developing training programs focusing on cultural competency. This allows employees to understand and work with people from different cultures in a better way.

Emphasis on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a major focus for many businesses in current years. This is due to research showing that engaged employees are more loyal and productive to their organization, which results in greater profits for the company.

Diversity and inclusion consultants must develop skills in this area as employee engagement becomes more important. Due to this, they will be able to help corporations create a culture of inclusion that enables employee engagement.

Step 4: Build Your Skills

The best consultants attend seminars, workshops, and classes consistently to stay on top of most of the current strategies and terms. Knowing how to handle tough conversations while staying professional is also essential. 

The best D&I consultants hold an elevated emotional quotient (EQ) level and a promise to be inclusive in their lives. With such skills, a consultant helps a business to develop a strong, long-term D&I strategy that safeguards employees and sets the firm apart from the crowd.

Step 5: Create a Portfolio

A portfolio is a great way to show your skill and work. Make sure to flaunt your expertise in your portfolio. Companies need someone who knows what they are talking about, someone who has a mix of academic knowledge, real-life experience (either through personal or work experience), and the ability to take a challenging subject matter like diversity, equity, inclusion, and teach it in a way that’s engaging and understandable to those at any level. Your portfolio needs to exude that you understand your work and field of knowledge.

Your portfolio needs to present work showing that you know the concepts of D&I and aren’t just using terms you have memorized and recited. It involves an understanding of the past and ideals for the future. This is why you need to present yourself as someone with an understanding and experience of the theory. You need to be someone who understands the why’s and how’s and the context surrounding these concepts.

The world of diversity, equity, and inclusion is complex. It is also extremely personal and involves difficult concepts. Therefore, being successful as a consultant requires intention and a proper framework. The ideal diversity and inclusion consultant understands how to survey the theoretical difficulties and communicate practical solutions. Therefore, your portfolio needs to show ideal solutions and how you managed to communicate those.

Your portfolio needs to show your personality. Such personal work requires someone with a personality that connects with people, holds their attention, and activates them. For your efforts to take hold, your team must relate to the subject matter and participate. So, a consultant who can engage people and ensure ideas stay with your team is extremely important, and you need to be that individual. You need to create a personalized framework for your team and your needs. Your work needs to represent creativity and individualization. 

The world is now completely automated, and it moves at the speed of clicks and swipes, so you need to be someone who understands technology and can use it to help your team address diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.

Diversity and inclusion will mean something different to CEOs, shareholders, directors, managers, and team members. You need to be able to convey information through your work, where you worked through many different forms and created connections and partnerships through all levels of an organization.

The topics within D&I can be sensitive, touchy, and require much reflection and honesty, and everyone will react differently to these discussions. You need to be a consultant who understands this, accepts this, and can handle it with a calm and reassuring demeanor, and your past experiences need to reflect this.

The field of D&I is far more than just inspiring lectures and concepts on a page. It delves into a whole array of personal issues, so you need to be a consultant who finds joy in the work. That passion will ensure they understand the discipline and connect with others in ways that will help them understand it. 

How to Become a D&I Consultant With No Experience

A career as an inclusion and diversity consultant can be incredibly rewarding. It is an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives from all arenas of life and help businesses become more inclusive and warm places for everyone.

To succeed in this field, it is important to understand the issues facing underrepresented groups in society and how they impact workplaces. You also need to be able to communicate effectively with individuals from all walks of life and be able to work cohesively with others towards a particular goal.

If you are interested in choosing a career path as a diversity and inclusion consultant, there are numerous ways to get started. For example, you can take courses online or webinars on matters corresponding to diversity and inclusion; read articles and books on the subject matter, and attend workshops and conferences focusing on these areas. You can also volunteer at local institutions that benefit underrepresented communities.

What Does It Take to Become a Great Diversity and Inclusion Consultant?

Getting a D&I Consultant job is one thing, but how do you become a great Diversity and Inclusion Consultant? To start, you must look past core competencies to develop interpersonal skills, which can affect individual project success and your long-term career prospects.

Diversity and inclusion consultants need these skills to be successful in their job duties:

Communication skills

Communication skills are necessary for everyone, especially for a diversity and inclusion consultant. You must communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and employees to succeed in this role. You must also be able to convey multi-faceted ideas in a way that is easy to understand.

Cultural competency

Cultural competency is understanding and interacting with people from differing backgrounds. This is an important skill set for D&I consultants because it permits them to support their consumers and create inclusive environments. For example, a diversity and inclusion consultant will help a company design a program that trains employees about various cultures and how to converse with people from those cultures.

Leadership

Leadership skills can be useful for diversity and inclusion consultants, as they can help you to motivate and inspire others to take action. Leadership skills can also help you to guide organizations through the process of implementing new initiatives and programs.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills allow you to identify challenges and find solutions to overcome them. For example, as a diversity and inclusion consultant, you may be called upon to help an organization find ways to improve its diversity and inclusion practices. This may involve researching, analyzing data, and making suggestions for improvement.

Research

Diversity and inclusion consultants often research topics related to diversity and inclusion to help their clients understand the topic. For example, they may research the history of diversity and inclusion in the workplace to help their clients understand why it is important to have a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Bottom Line

To become a great Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, you do not need a degree in a specific field or a master’s degree. Many companies do not care about these requirements. However, you need a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy and find out where the company is in its policies and how well its current efforts are going. Ask questions, talk to stakeholders, and review labor statistics, diversity programs, and relevant documents and data. 

You need to help the organization refine its goals. Figure out what factions need working. What does improvement look like? Figuring this out is an essential part of a consultant’s role. You need to have procedures that handle each of these situations and present a strategy of action that makes their work worth the effort. Your responsibilities center around inclusivity for all in the organization, utilizing your skills to ensure hiring equality from one workplace to the next. This role consists of duties like using analytical data and revising company policy.

Conclusively, diversity consultants work alongside human resources specialists to help the organization evaluate and assess its situation. They help them understand and implement quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods and provide recommendations and specific next steps. 

 

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.