A diversity consultant is one focused on increasing the level of inclusion (i.e., mix of racial, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic perspectives) within a firm. In this article, we’ll explore the fairly new roles of diversity consultants in more detail. We’ll compare diversity and inclusion consulting to racial equity consultants, and explore the benefits of diversity consultants.
What Is a Diversity Consultant?
What is a diversity consultant? It’s important to note that “diversity consultant” is a broad term that can include a variety of internal or external roles at a company. However, a diversity consultant is likely to be an external position in most cases.
The goal of a diversity consultant, of course, is to reduce discrimination over time while increasing inclusion and acceptance. Those involved in diversity and inclusion consulting may prepare training modules, run workshops, or even deal with internal conflict. He or she may be involved in a very similar range of activities to a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer/manager.
Further, a diversity consultant’s role includes analyzing data (both quantitative and qualitative) and then developing policies and procedures to encourage positive practices towards minority and historically underrepresented groups.
The job description of a diversity consultant also includes understanding and advising a company on its diversity goals. This individual may assess a company’s current demographics relative to its goals and build processes to increase diversity of talent, thought, and opinion. It will often require revisions to company policy. Finally, a diversity consultant is often involved in branding and communication, helping the company articulate to outsiders that it is an inclusive place to work.
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Is A Diversity Consultant and A Racial Equity Consultant the Same?
A diversity consultant and a racial equity consultant are similar and may spend a fair amount of time thinking about similar issues. But a racial equity consultant is a sub-category within the broader umbrella of diversity and inclusion consulting. A diversity consultant will concern him or herself with issues of unequal treatment brought about by issues of income, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. A racial equity consultant, obviously, has a narrower focus on race and ethnicity.
In light of recent movement towards social justice issues, organizations and their leaders have felt compelled to address racial inequality. Some of the rationale for a focus on race is purely altruistic. As members of society and employers of individuals, leaders want to play a part in undoing systemic racism. However, there are also potential bottom-line benefits to advancing racial equity. These benefits include a better understanding of what Black, Latinx, and Asian customers want and need. They include insights around how to partner with suppliers of minority owned businesses. And they include, of course, the ability to retain and invest in Black, Latinx, and Asian employees.
How Would a Company Know It Would Benefit From A Diversity Consultant?
Yes, corporate diversity consultants are likely employed for a mix of altruistic and selfish reasons. Leaders want to be good members of society, but if they can make their company a more successful enterprise in the long term in the process, that’s even better. A diversity consultant may recommend changes that seem disruptive or counterproductive from the standpoint of near-term profit generation. However, over the long term, most changes are likely to bring financial as well as societal value.
Imagine a diversity consultant recommends extending PTO for new mothers to attract and retain female employees and become more inclusive from a gender perspective. In the near term, this may be disruptive and cost money. But looking at the long term, you gain better access to 50% of the talent pool.
So, how would a company know if it would benefit from a diversity consultant?
Things To Look For
Let’s look at this from a market perspective first. If a company’s mix of employees or the customers it serves does not match society at large, it would likely benefit from a diversity consultant. From a market perspective, there is room for growth in beginning to serve a more diverse customer base and having a better understanding of the needs of fast-growing minority segments. Internally, a lack of diversity reduces creativity and the ability to understand the needs of diverse groups.
How about from a talent perspective? If a firm has a senior leadership team composed of only white men, it’s likely doing something along the way to discourage minorities or women to seek progression and promotion. A good question to ask in this case would be: “Is something amiss from a diversity and inclusion perspective?” Lack of diversity reduces creativity and drastically reduces the chance that a company can do a good job serving minorities and under-served people groups. More broadly, having an inclusive brand is likely to benefit a company from the perspective of attracting both customers and employees.
AS BCG puts it, “When you put your company’s business to work for the greater good as well as your bottom line, both profit immensely. We help you build inclusive strategies, supply chains, products, and distribution channels that advance racial equity and business goals alike.”
A diversity consultant helps companies achieve their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals. This is done by evaluating the current state of a business relative to its stated goals using a mix of data analysis, interviews, and policy reviews. Luckily, pursuing diversity and inclusion goals often increase the long-term value of an organization. Diversity and inclusion consulting can lead to a more equitable society and companies better suited to meeting the diverse needs of its customers, suppliers, and employees.
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