It goes without saying that effective consulting relies on selecting partners who are experts in their field with extensive knowledge and experience. However, this expertise must not simply lie in the subject matter itself. Of more significance is the range of principles they work by, the soft skills they must possess, as well as their problem-solving abilities to collaboratively translate organizational vision and values into results and a reality that reflects these aspirations.
Diversity and inclusion consulting will only unleash the power and potential inherent in an organization if the consulting process itself embodies the elements that will withstand the test of time in terms of their validity. The main element that must be evident to everyone consultants engage with, from day one, is that they inspire trust and confidence.
Excellence in inclusion and diversity consulting flows from the fact that their enlightenment and honesty are obvious and they are adept at getting to the heart of issues and sharing their observations in a constructive straightforward manner irrespective of the audience. Establishing credibility is a by-product of the fact that with diversity and inclusion consulting there can be no sugar-coated responses and solutions. We must confront and deal with the truth proactively and courageously.
It is really motivating when consultants are able to guide strategy formulation, key plans, and the establishment of change imperatives with clear authority borne out of an enlightened understanding of both the human condition as well as commercial performance necessities. Superior consultants look to combine the best in both to their mutual advantage, always looking for ways to optimise beyond current achievements. Diversity and inclusion training will often be customised to include important messages that will be unique to the organisation’s transformation towards greater diversity and inclusivity.
Exceptional diversity and inclusion consulting will always be concerned with the maximum transference of knowledge, skills, and expertise to the organisation at all levels as rapidly as possible for the sustainable upliftment of individuals in support of diversity and inclusion goals. The lighter the touch necessitated by the consultants going forward into the future, the better, as genuine progress in diversity and inclusion is a function of the internalisation of what is imparted. The role of consultants needs to shift to trusted advisers, guides, coaches, and mentors where appropriate as the evolution of the organisation unfolds. The bottom line must be clear. Accountability for transformation sits with everyone in the organisation individually and collectively. A groundswell of people must be committed and play their part.
Aligned to this, effective inclusion and diversity consulting must involve the ability to ask probing relevant questions borne out to the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data as well as personal observations. They must build capacity in the organisation for reflection and awareness so that increasingly, leaders in the organisation can discover the root causes of persistent problems and challenges and find meaningful pragmatic solutions that will work in the interests of the greater good. Quickly, effective consultants will demonstrate that diversity and inclusion consulting is far from a theoretical exercise and that whole-hearted commitment, in the long run, is essential. Genuine consultants will not be apologetic about being tough taskmasters always demanding the best from all contributors.
Consultants know that people within the organisation will be closely watching and that the organisation will be consistent in word and deed. Effective consulting must, therefore, embody realism in every aspect of diversity and inclusion delivery against targets. The clear-sighted focus must be on the delivery of any promises and management of expectations across the board.
This necessitates a well-thought-through communication programme that is constantly in sync with what is transpiring within the organisation on this front. Consultants must ensure the correct connections are made and that communication is both motivational but also educational in terms of providing information that matters most at a point in time. Optimal communication will always be early, often, and anticipatory. It will also be enriched and informed by ongoing engagement activities within the organisation.
Diversity and inclusion training would have laid the foundation for an organisation to be receptive to change. However, the job is never done exclusively through training. The consultant’s job will, therefore, also involve ongoing facilitation in the organisation, particularly where issues arising might threaten overall progress. Good consultants will need to see past current chaos, conflict, and agendas and have the ability to create common ground, concessions, and harmony.
Again, these skills need to be transferred into the organisation to deal consistently with the change and need to cycle through shifting priorities and setbacks. Proficiency at moving people collectively through difficult times will instil hope and confidence that temporary challenges can indeed be surmounted with the right intent and mindset.
At the end of the day, effective inclusion and diversity consulting will leave a legacy in an organisation of people who are passionate and driven towards life-long learning about themselves and others and their combined possibilities. The fundamental caring orientation of extraordinary consultants will become manifest within the organisation to everyone’s advantage.