We have extensive experience in designing and delivering customized programs focused on equity and inclusion in the workplace. The Equity Consulting Group, Inc. (ECG) approach has been developed over thirty-five years of consulting, training, and coaching individuals and organizations through change. Formerly known as The Equity Institute, one of the oldest firms in the field, it established the business case for inclusion long before “diversity” was common language. Clients total 250,000 individuals from more than 2000 organizations, including Fortune 100 companies, as well as major philanthropic, religious, non-profit and educational organizations. Our work began in the non-profit sector with an emphasis on issues of diversity and inclusion. Initially we conducted public service programs on class, race, gender, and sexual orientation from 1981 – 1997. Programs included Dismantling Racism, Dismantling Racism and Anti-Semitism, Dismantling Sexism, Dismantling Classism, Project Empowerment (a program designed to educate LBGT K-12 educators on how to effectively confront heterosexism and homophobia) and Train-the-Trainer (a week-long intensive experience designed to educate aspiring diversity and inclusion facilitators). Today, all programs and services continue to be developed and delivered “through a diversity lens”.

We currently work nationally and internationally with non-profit, higher education and corporate clients, all of whom have varying degrees of diversity in their organizations. We work in cross-gender, cross-class and usually cross-race facilitation teams so that we are able to model the work of inclusion for our clients in real-time. We ascribe to Adams and Bell’s definition of social justice/equity, which posits “a socially just environment is one where every member of the community feels physically and psychologically safe.” This is a high standard which requires organizational commitment and sustained effort.

Our Methodology

Needs Assessment
Clients are interviewed individually in one/one confidential meetings. The needs assessment process gathers data; perceptions and experiences through the lens of each team member. The data is used to develop program goals, objectives, and agenda. Data theme summaries are the focus for discussion at the beginning of each training, and serve as comparative long-term benchmarks.

Typically, we conduct four to six two-day customized trainings over a period of two years (usually every four-six months) to build and support identified organizational goals.

An Executive Summary is provided to clients at the conclusion of each training. In addition, a raw data program evaluation summary, interim assignment, and recommendations for next steps are distributed after each training to reinforce practical application and maximize outcomes.

Our work deliverables/learning outcomes are always tailored to meet the specifically identified needs of the client. Progress is benchmarked at regular intervals. Measurable outcomes might include:

  • Increased individual and organizational multicultural competence – awareness, knowledge and skills.
  • Increased emotional intelligence for more effective engagement and response.
  • Stronger abilities to give and receive balanced feedback.
  • Increased levels of one/one and organizational trust.

Increased ability to engage in constructive/healthy conflict.

The concept of Enrollment is key in our success with clients. We ask clients to commit time (beyond one training and between trainings) to the work we facilitate. Detailed and tailored homework (prior to and after the trainings) is a core practice used to build and sustain organizational capacity for the growth and change. Key benchmarks are established from the needs assessment process, and used to measure progress against objectives. New team members are on-boarded to ensure alignment with common foundational tools and principles.
Consultants in our group consistently engage in work both individually and collectively to understand our power and privilege, not only as “holders of the container for the conversation,” but also to understand how our social identities impact the work we lead. We each attend yearly trainings to continue to explore and deepen our understanding of how who we are and what we bring affects our facilitation. Every good therapist has a good therapist, and we believe that every skilled trainer seeks and accepts the training of another. We use co-facilitation teams (cross class, race, gender and sexual orientation teams) to model how power and privilege can be effectively managed in an organization and/or between individuals.
At the very core of team work is the element of conflict. We believe that conflict in and of itself is neither good nor bad, yet necessary. The “how” to engage in conflict is always more important than the “what.” We have used tools including but not limited to The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, Leadership and Self Deception and The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute, The Equity Consulting Group, Inc. Model for Feedback and others to help team members constructively, directly address underlying themes, issues and barriers that prevent organizational inclusion, collaboration and work output.
There are two primary factors to consider when embarking on efforts of team development and/or inclusion and diversity. The first is an issue of readiness which includes the current “mindset” of the organization. We agree with the work of the Arbinger Institute that suggests an organization’s mindset is key in focusing energy on the collective goals, needs and objectives of others. This skill is essential for growing a more inclusive environment and collaborative team. We use the needs assessment, in part, to assess the individual and collective readiness of our clients. This information assists us in norming expectations and outcomes. The second factor is support from the senior leadership, which includes emotional and financial support, and an understanding that this work is life-long, ever-evolving, requiring sustained attention – not a quick fix program.