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The Value of Having an In-House DEI Coach

This guest post is by Kristie Santana. She is a certified life coach who has spent the last 15 years traveling the country advocating for the benefits of coaching. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and a founding member of Life Coach Path, a New York based organization that provides resources and online education for aspiring coaches around the world.

Have you ever heard an interview with an Olympic-level athlete that went like this?


“How did you become so skillful at your sport? You make it look so easy!”


Well, I took this amazing workshop that opened my eyes to the sport’s existence, and it gave some great tips on how to start training! There you have it! The next day I was a gold-medalist!

Never? Of course not.

To become proficient at anything worthwhile, it takes an everyday dedication to training.

Successful athletes finish every practice and game by examining the areas where they can improve, and then implementing daily training that strengthens those areas of weakness. In other words, improvement comes from repetition and learning from mistakes.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training is no different. We are not going to be Olympic-level DEI team members on “Day 1”, and that’s okay! LeBron James or Michael Phelps didn’t say, after losing their first game or race, “I’m just going to forget that happened and keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing.” And they definitely didn’t say, “I give up! I suck! I don’t have the ability to improve.”

Turning to skilled coaches on a daily basis is at the heart of every top athlete’s career. Hiring a talented and encouraging DEI Coach to be a permanent part of your team is the secret sauce to your company's success.


A study published by McKinsey found that public companies with the highest gender, ethnic, and racial diversity in management positions were also observed to be 15% to 35% more likely to have returns above the industry average.


Cloverpop, a B2B decision-making platform, released a study in 2017 that showed inclusive decision-making practices led to better business decisions 87% of the time. But even more impressive was that those decisions were reached twice as fast and required half the time in meetings.


This study conducted by a Boston-based consulting firm, BCG, found that innovation jumped significantly when the proportion of female managers increased 20% or higher within an organization.

As you begin the process of hiring an in-house D&I Coach be sure to look for prospective candidates that have a background in organization development as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. You will find that many respected DEI Coaches also have significant leadership experience. Some may have specific experience in your industry and have subsequently trained as a coach in order to become skilled at designing and delivering tailored on-going organization DEI training.

You can begin your search by reaching out to organizations that certify and award credentials to coaches. They will be able to direct you to a database of coaches with the skill sets you are specifically looking for. The industry offers a plethora of continuing education certificates that allow a DEI Coach to add depth to their own skills by training in specialty assessment and communication techniques.

Finding a D&I Coach that has unique strengths that are well-suited to your organization's needs will help in establishing an ongoing trend of progress and growth which will have a direct impact on your ROI.

One of the first questions your DEI Coach will likely ask you is, “What initiated your decision to hire a Diversity and Inclusion Coach?”

Your answer will likely be followed by a description of what you and your board members have determined to be the areas your organization needs to work on. That is an excellent place to start, but be prepared to receive an audit by your D&I Coach which will likely detail blind spots in your initial assessment. They will review your existing data and organizational structure and prescribe a path forward that addresses your company’s unique needs and mission-critical objectives.

Another question your Diversity and Inclusion Coach will likely ask is: “What are your organization's current pain points?”

The things most often needed to “heal” in these areas are: directly addressing needed diversity in leadership, holding staff accountable, and revising existing policies and procedures. While doing this, your D&I Coach will gather data on where your organization stands initially and continue to do so in order to chart growth and observe trends. They will also conduct ongoing evaluations in order to assess if their own efforts need to be adjusted.

Investing in the journey to become more diverse and inclusive is a decision that supports your bottom-line and promotes an organizational culture where employees thrive. With an in-house DEI Coach the pit-falls of “one-off” diversity training workshops can be addressed on an ongoing basis. This integrated model promotes inter-organizational trust and allows D&I training to be a motivating and positive experience for all.

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