Screening Diversity Trainers

Mauricio Velásquez, President
The Diversity Training Group

You acknowledge that diversity training will help your organization internally and impact the bottom line. You are ready to embark on the diversity journey for your company. So you publicly request proposals from all the diversity training companies you can find. Many diversity training and consulting companies look good on paper. The resumes, approaches, and references are looking more similar over time as practicing diversity trainers perfect their trade. So how do you separate the superior trainers from those that might cause more harm than good when allowed to come into your organization to start this very important work? Take the next step. A very important step.



You have reviewed their proposals, checked their references, looked at their sample training materials, scrutinized their resumes, and acknowledged the most appropriate approach. Several trainers and their firms made the first cut. Now you are ready to take the trainers "for a test drive." How many companies hire diversity trainers "sight unseen" and when the training goes wrong ask themselves why? Ask the trainers to come in (at no charge to you -- the prospective client) and make a two-part presentation.

The first half of the presentation is a "mini-diversity training workshop." The mini-workshop is followed by a presentation reviewing the proposal the diversity training firm submitted with ample time for questions and answers. Make the trainer dance and ask many questions. For example, how do you deal with hecklers, resistors, or blockers? How do you secure "buy-in" and organization-wide support and commitment? Ask the real difficult questions. What have you learned from past experiences? What mistakes will we avoid as an organization in hiring you and your diversity training firm? Never ask, "can you do this kind of training?" Every trainer or consultant will say, "yes, of course." Ask the more pertinent question, "have you done this training before, for whom, and when?"

One of my clients, Arbitron, invited five diversity trainers to come in and present half-day sessions and then chose the trainer who shared their vision, their approach, and presented the topic in the most effective, productive and thought-provoking manner. The Arbitron diversity team, which included the President, benefited by receiving five half-day sessions at no charge and by making a well-informed decision.

I will not submit a proposal to a client company unless I am guaranteed an opportunity to showcase my training skills, materials, and approach to the topic. Lastly, before you choose and commit to a trainer, ask one more question. What are the trainers you are considering "giving back to the community."



As President of the Diversity Training Group I make it a point to conduct pro-bono or gratis workshops (or heavily discounted) for non-profit and educational organizations on a monthly basis. I believe with success comes a greater responsibility, a greater obligation to the community at-large. Diversity trainers all across this country should "give back to their respective communities." For example, I am President of the Foreign-Born Information Referral Network (FIRN), a local non-profit organization that assists political refugees and legal immigrants in becoming productive citizens. I have conducted free workshops for police officers, teachers, and other social service organizations. There are many organizations out there that have diversity training needs but very limited resources. What has your diversity trainer "done for your community lately?"

If organizations all across this country would reward those diversity training companies that do give back, I believe we could all make a difference inside and outside Corporate America.