The consultant's primary role is to assist your organization with certain areas of your inclusiveness work. While the consultant may act as an educator, a catalyst for deeper change, a resource, or a facilitator, the leadership of the process remains within your organization. The Inclusiveness Committee, staff, board members, and executive director have the power, and the greater responsibility, to lead the process of becoming more inclusive.
There are generally four categories of work for which you may want to hire the services of a consultant or a consulting team:
1. Overall Guidance: The consultant works with the Inclusiveness Committee throughout the inclusiveness initiative to plan and execute the initiative and acts as a meeting or process facilitator.
2. Information Gathering: The consultant designs and gathers data during the information-gathering phase. Consultants can be particularly useful in collecting qualitative data through interviews and focus groups, since their neutral position with the organization can lead to more honest responses from internal and external stakeholders.
3. Cultural Competency/Diversity Training: The consultant conducts diversity/inclusiveness trainings to create a more inclusive culture and help stakeholders become more aware of how the organization may be creating an unwelcome atmosphere for diverse communities. In this instance, you may want to use one consultant or a consulting team for all of the trainings or you may wish to bring in content specialists for different trainings and use an "integrating facilitator." An integrating facilitator works with you throughout your process, helping to provide continuity between trainings.
4. Evaluation: The consultant creates an evaluation plan to measure the efficacy of trainings and progress of your inclusiveness initiative.
Upon reviewing proposals made in response to your Request for Proposals (RFP), and negotiating with the consultant you select, you may need to adjust the role you have defined for your consultant.
The role that your consultant plays can be a combination of the above, or just one - it depends on your organization's needs and the consultant that you select. Consultants may be brought in for day-long sessions, for multiple trainings, or to assist you with particular topics. The time you spend with your consultant - if you hire one - and the work the consultant does, depend upon your organization's specific needs and budget.