So your company has decided to hire an LGBTQ+ Diversity Consultant! That's commendable, exciting, and... stressful.
The right consultant can help open minds and hearts, and take your company's culture to a different level. When the culture works, work works.
The wrong consultant? At best they do no harm. At worst, tensions rise, people are hurt, and morale dips. When the culture doesn't work, people leave.
The intention of hiring out for this work may be good, but good intentions abound with unintended consequences. Equity & inclusion consultants are not like other business strategists. They are there to impact individual emotions and thoughts, as well as organizational principles.
Before taking this important step, strongly consider who's coming in to do this work.
Here's 5 things to know before you hire an LGBTQ+ diversity consultant.
1. Their philosophy.
There are MANY consulting philosophies for equity, diversity, and inclusion. You need to ask your potential consultant about theirs. Is that philosophy in line with what you want to achieve? If not, maybe they're not the right fit.
Why do you do this work?
What brought you to this work and what keeps you coming back?
What is your overall goal with this work?
Or, real simple: What's your philosophy about this work?
2. Their experience.
Consultants are typically in that line of work because of experience. Generally, they'll describe how many years they have been doing this work. Make sure to ask what exactly they've done. An experienced consultant who also identifies as LGBTQ+ is a major value-add. But keep in mind that just being LGBTQ+, on its own, does not qualify someone to consult on your business.
What consulting projects have you done?
Have you worked for companies like ours?
What's the largest (smallest) company you've worked with?
How do you assess impact?
Do you have references or testimonials?
3. Their involvement.
Many consulting companies will hire out to do this work. Make sure you know who will be doing the work on your project. If the person will be hiring out, it is best practice for them to provide you with a list and description of the others involved, and what they'll be doing. This is particularly true for trainings where the consultant (or their team) will be directly interacting with your staff.
Will you personally provide these services?
How do you hire out for specific services?
What is your philosophy around building a team for this project?
How do you evaluate people on your team?
Do you have a description of the team member's work?
4. Their materials.
One of the most effective tools for consulting is a dynamic and interactive set of materials. Take the time to learn, look through, and assess what the consultant will be using in support of their work. What are they going to use to find out more about your company, to make recommendations to your company, to help you implement those strategies, and then to gather and utilize the data afterward?
Can we take a look at your materials, or a sample set?
What questions will be on your questionnaires?
Why do you use these materials? And how do you know they are effective?
If you have a Powerpoint, can we take a look? (*typically, audiences do not like wordy Powerpoints)
What materials do you use to assess impact?
How will the audience participate?
5. Their response.
Most of all, take note of the consultant's response to these questions. Evasiveness, defensiveness, and a lack of transparency says A LOT! When you find a consultant, they should be open with you and able to accept, assess, and integrate your opinions and needs.
As with every other aspect of your business - do your research! There are a lot of consultants, but your company is unique, your goals are specific, and your staff deserves the best.