You’ve received buy-in from your leadership to start the great search for an expert to come in and facilitate conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at work, or perhaps you are the leader who has just empowered yourself to bring someone in. While this can be an exciting time, filled with hope for real change, it can also be incredibly daunting. What if the facilitator isn’t effective? Or worse, what if they do more harm than good? Many people we speak with have been advocating for bringing someone in to facilitate conversations for a while and there’s a real fear that if they ‘mess up’, their leadership or their company won’t trust that this work can yield some truly positive results. Here are some ways we’ve seen companies be most successful in bringing in the right partner.
Be clear on your goals.
Why are you doing this? Is it to level-set the company on the basics of diversity, equity, and inclusion? Is it to respond to negative feedback given about microaggressions, or a toxic work environment? Did a situation occur? Is it to address the current news cycle? Understand what you’re trying to accomplish so that you can first find the right partner who can meet your needs. Determine what success looks like for you.
Be clear on your audience.
Who will be participating in this training? Is this something for senior leaders to learn about, or even start with, so they can affect change from the top? Do you wish the training to be focused on people managers? Hiring managers? People Ops? Is it for everyone? Note that if you want to have a workshop for all staff, but not leadership, you may get some understandable blowback. Why should the training only be for us and not them?
Confirm that you truly have buy-in from those that hold the purse strings.
Training by expert facilitators shouldn’t be considered a minor expense. We have seen companies be perfectly willing to spend a lot of money on swag and only a fraction of that expense on training that can not only impact the company’s financial performance, but have a positive impact beyond the workplace. If you hear from leadership that they want you to solicit multiple proposals and come back with the least expensive training, your company may not be ready for real change. It’s not that money shouldn’t be a factor, it’s just that it shouldn’t be the most important one. We’ve found that companies are so much more successful in creating an inclusive workplace if leadership is willing to do the work and understands its value.
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