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More than a Title: Shopping for Effective D&I Firms

Ever wonder if diversity and inclusion workshops and training really make an impact? They can but what is in the message and who delivers may impact how interested the participating group may be.

In a recent article, What's in it for you by Gardner & Ryan (2020), evidence was found that those who are most likely to be more interested in a diversity initiatives are those that are from the groups that they are most likely part of advocating for. It is critical that when talking about or promoting D&I that the benefits of experiencing diversity can be applied across all diversity dimensions. To advocate for oneself is a priority and if others can see themselves in those benefits, they are more likely to be more interested and potentially support the initiative.

When selecting a D&I firm or an individual to partner or deliver effective diversity initiatives, the following criteria should be considered:

  1. Does the individual or firm have accredited educational background or certifications in the area of D&I? Do not go by title alone. Sometimes responsibilities are grouped together and placed with individuals ill equipped to manage the load. It is imperative that you get to what they really know and how they are supported in the back end.

  2. Does the individual or firm rely mainly on their own individual experiences versus a number of dimensions of diversity? Sometimes you may want to address one or two dimensions of diversity or hear a good story during a one-time presentation. However, most businesses or organizations want to reach and make an impact to a broader audience for ongoing, effective communication so it is imperative to seek diversity representation across the spectrum.

  3. What industries has the individual or firm successfully delivered diversity training or information to? There are different audiences with unique challenges and needs and so are the industries. Be on the look out for those who are versatile and who have expertise in your type of industry or have access to experts in your industry.

  4. How and who is going to deliver the messages? You may want a Train-the-Trainer program or desire the firm to deliver the message system wide. Make this determination before selecting the individual or firm will be dependent upon resources and the ultimate goal of your messages.

  5. Does the individual or firm seem to know the latest technology for presentation delivery (virtual or in-person) and know diversity terminology? A friend reference is a powerful tool and so is a white paper but what are the long-term outcomes? Be on the lookout for their use of technology, delivery channels and the understanding on the materials you expect them to deliver.

Ultimately, if you follow these guidelines and build in a budget that can sustain a multidimensional approach with a reach to be inclusive of all dimensions, an effective diversity and inclusion program is not only achievable but may help raise the bar of standards within your own business or organizational industry. Perhaps an award for being an inclusive work place may be in your future!


Gardner, D. M., & Ryan, A. M. (2020). What’s in it for you? Demographics and self-interest perceptions in diversity promotion. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(9), 1062–1072.

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