How to select your Disability Partner: The rise and rise of diversity consultants

As diversity has become increasingly important in the workplace there has been an increasing number of consultants, practioners and training providers available to support you with your diversity journey.

A number of already established consultancies simply added diversity as another service they offer, others set up specifically to work in this area. Equally, whilst some consultancies work across the broad spectrum of diversity, others specialise in a certain area.

Diversity is a huge subject. Legally it includes 6 streams: gender, ethnicity, faith, age, sexual orientation and disability. In reality it is much much broader than this.

If you are serious about diversity, you need to ensure that you have a real expert in each of the strands. Otherwise you will not even begin to do justice to it.

Initial considerations

In starting to think about who you want to work with, you need to consider:

  • What do you want to achieve? Where you are on your disability confidence journey will depend on what you what to achieve. Are you at the beginning looking at vision and strategy, or are you looking to deliver training and awareness sessions? Depending on what you want to achieve, will depend on what you are looking for in a partner.
  • What do you want your partner to do? You can work with your disability partner in a variety of ways. You may wish them to simply act as a consultant; to provide advice and expertise. Equally, you may wish them to be involved in the delivery of initiatives.

Other questions

The list of questions you may ask is endless. The following are some of the key ones:

  • Do you want your consultancy to be familiar with your industry sector?
  • Knowing the sector can bring obvious benefits however someone who is new to the sector could bring the advantage of a fresh approach.
  • Is it important that your consultant is themselves disabled?
  • Many would argue that to really understand this subject, first hand experience is crucial.
  • What credentials are you looking for? You may wish to consider what is important to you in terms of: prior work experience; HR background; experience of working with disabled individuals. Do you want to work with one consultant, or a number?
  • Do you want your consultants to work in partnership? Are they prepared to do this? In terms of training sessions, are you looking for a legal briefing or to learn about the practicalities of disability?