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Unlocking The Who And What Of DEI & Culture Change Consulting- Who To Hire For DEI

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A brilliant CEO had come into their position running a statewide agency only a few short months ago, and as they came to know what Wilson and Associates did they shared the following with us:

“I just came on board 2 months ago.  I know we want to activate our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, and I know we need to address the concerns our employees have raised about the company culture and workload, too.  I just don’t know what support we need or who we need to hire to help us.” 

This sense of not knowing what to do or who to hire is commonplace for organizational leaders who know they want to create a great place to work and are simply unsure how to do it.If this feels familiar, my hope is to both affirm and normalize your experience and also give you a guide with the language and tools to begin clarifying your first steps to getting the right support to jumpstart your DEI and organizational culture change efforts.


As leaders evaluate their company culture and look for ways to enhance employee experiences, they often seek external support to design and implement targeted interventions. This is because the task is often too complex or time-consuming for senior leadership in People Operations and Human Resources alone.

This external support involves casting a wide net to find consultants who specialize in a range of subject areas, including facilitation, organizational development, change management, organizational culture change, DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) strategy and training, and/or human resource consulting, to name the most common.

It can be challenging to understand the differences between these disciplines and, harder still, to understand the difference between the kinds of support you can expect from the consultants working in each of these areas. Although many people are familiar with consulting because of large firms like Deloitte, our clients often prefer working with smaller, certified Black-owned and women business enterprises (WBEs) like Wilson and Associates, that are agile and can provide more hands-on support and tailored solutions. As a precursor to our No-Nonsense Guide to Hiring a DEI and Culture Change Consultant, we decided to develop this primer on key terms and consultant types to help you understand the kinds of support you hire to develop and implement your vision and strategies to achieve diversity, equity, inclusion, and workplace well-being. 



DEI and Organizational Culture Change

Having a shared language around the terms used in this article will help you not only understand how we are using the concepts; it will also help you in your consultant search.

In 16 years of consulting, I can tell you that we meet with clients daily who have been engaged in DEI for years and have no operational definition for the terms.  If you don’t have definitions for your organization, we encourage you to develop them, either with your internal staff or add this to the support your consultant can provide.

What is DEI?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) refers to two things.

  1. DEI includes the practices and strategies that promote a diverse workplace, ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities for all employees, and foster an environment where diverse opinions and perspectives are valued and effectively integrated into the organization’s operations.

  2. DEI is also the actual outcomes that you hope to achieve.

    1. Diversity is an outcome you can achieve related to representation.

    2. Equity is an outcome that can be achieved related to fairness and justice in processes, opportunities, and resource distribution. 

    3. Inclusion is an outcome related to how valued and involved people feel in the organization.

What is Organizational Culture?

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, norms, and practices that characterize an organization, shaping its members' behaviors, attitudes, and experiences of diversity, equity, inclusion, psychological safety, and workplace well-being. It defines the operating style or 'vibe' of a workplace, influencing everything from employee interactions and work performance to communication styles and decision-making processes

What is Organizational Culture Change?

This involves modifying (or realigning) the values, beliefs, practices, and behaviors in an organization to foster a healthy and supportive workplace environment. This change can focus on any of the “ingredients” that make up an organization's culture, such as leadership styles, decision-making processes, communication practices, or DEI skills.  

What is Change Management?

Change Management is a systematic approach used to transition individuals, teams, and organizations from their current state to a desired future state, aiming to maximize benefits and minimize resistance to change. In our company, we see Change Management as an umbrella term that encompasses DEI and Organizational Culture Change work.


Years ago we had a client who noted there were “ghosts from the past” that they hoped we could help them address through our DEI Consulting Contract. They believed that these ghosts needed to be managed before the organization could engage in their future-focused DEI work. 

When dealing with unspoken challenges such as underskilled managers, racial tensions, workplace conflicts, diversity representation gaps, microaggressions, employee burnout, unmanaged power dynamics, and other “ghosts”, the 80’s movie quote always comes to my mind. “Who You Gonna Call?”   It’s not going to be The Ghostbusters.  You need an external consultant. Who?  And what will they do?

Our client called Wilson and Associates!

And we brought a combination of the following supports and consulting approaches:

  • Facilitation

  • Conflict mediation and restorative justice support

  • DEI training

  • DEI Consulting

  • Organizational Development Consulting

  • Organizational Culture Consulting

  • Management Consulting

  • Leadership Coaching

However, when the client reached out to us they specifically sought a “Facilitator” and a “DEI Consultant.” Had they only filled these roles, they may not have vanquished the ghosts that required the healing and repair practices that we provided as a result of us being highly-skilled in the other modalities. It’s been our experience over the past 16 years in business that the work of improving organizational culture and creating great and inclusive places to work has gone by many names.  And I think this is why clients aren’t sure what to call it or who to hire.  

This is why we created this guide for you.


The image titled "Constellation of DEI & Culture Change Support" is a visually striking graphic with a deep blue background and yellow stars. Each star represents a different role in the field of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and organizational change, including positions such as DEI Consultant, DEI Trainer, Facilitator, Organizational Development Consultant, Management Consultant, Organizational Culture Consultant, Leadership Coach, and Conflict Mediation Specialist. These roles are arranged in a pattern reminiscent of a star constellation, emphasizing their interconnected nature in supporting DEI and cultural transformation. The logo of Wilson and Associates and the website "" are also featured, indicating the firm responsible for this creative presentation.

Below are the various consultant roles you might consider as you seek support for your DEI and Organizational Culture Change work.   

The roles are listed out individually, however, you may find a firm with expertise in multiple areas, such as Seramount which has expertise in both HR Consulting, Management Consultant, and DEI Consulting.

What is a DEI Consultant? 

A DEI Consultant designs and implements strategies to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization. They may conduct assessments, facilitate planning or strategy sessions, and develop policy or practice recommendations to help their client achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • When to Hire: When you want to address and resolve specific diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges. 

wilson and associates logo of concentric circles in teal, green, yellow, and gold with the Wilson and Associates Coaching and Consulting LLC name and the phrase Lets Work Together
Interested in DEI Consulting Services?  Learn how we can work together, here.

What is a DEI Trainer?

A DEI Trainer who specializes in developing awareness about diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations. They focus on delivering training sessions, workshops, and seminars designed to enhance understanding and develop skills related to DEI.   For example, Wilson and Associates is a DEI Trainer in that we provide training via our coaching community and bespoke training.

  • When to Hire: When you want to raise awareness, educate, and/or or build skills on DEI issues among employees.

What is a Facilitator?

A Facilitator is skilled in guiding group processes and discussions to make them more effective. They help groups improve problem-solving, decision-making, and collaboration, ensuring that all participants can contribute to the group's objectives. Facilitators also design spaces to manage power and other group dynamics and to balance participation. Ultimately, they are charged with ensuring the group achieves its goals by designing structured and engaging processes whenever people are gathered. (e.g. meetings, retreats, conferences). 

  • When to Hire: When group dynamics need to be managed, or when complex decision-making processes require expert guidance.

What Is An Organizational Culture Consultant?

These consultants focus on reshaping organizational norms and behaviors to support strategic objectives, often involving changes to communication styles, leadership approaches, and company values.

  • When to Hire: When the goal is to reshape or realign the company’s culture to align with strategic goals, vision, or values.

What is an Organizational Development Consultant?

These consultants focus on improving an organization's overall effectiveness through the development of its structures, systems, and processes, enhancing its ability to adapt and grow.  In practice, this kind of consulting has some overlap with Management Consulting with a focus on human behavior, workplace culture.

  • When to Hire: Enhance the effectiveness of organizational structures, processes, and culture.

What is a Management Consultant?

A Management Consultant advises their clients on how to improve business performance, solve complex problems, and maximize growth and productivity.   

  • When to Hire: When you want to improve overall business performance and efficiency.

What is a Leadership Coach?

A Leadership Coach works with individuals to enhance their leadership capabilities, focusing on personal and professional growth and effectiveness. They provide one-on-one confidential coaching, feedback, and action plans to individual leaders.  And most often, these coaches are certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) like our team at Wilson and Associates Coaching and Consulting.  Not all people working professionally as a coach are certified.

  • When to Hire: When you want to develop the leadership skills of individuals in emerging leadership or leadership roles.

What is a Conflict Mediation Specialist?

A Conflict Mediation Specialist facilitates the resolution of disputes and disagreements.   The Specialist is brought in to help the parties involved in the conflict reach amicable solutions by using a variety of tools and skills to facilitate negotiations and mediation and help restore workplace efficiency.

  • When to Hire: When you want to professionally resolve conflicts that have caused individual harm, disrupted team dynamics, or disrupted organizational harmony.


Knowing what support you need will help you determine who you need to hire.

Question #1: What specific challenges are we facing?

  • You're invited to identify the priority issues or problems you need/hope to resolve in order to achieve your vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or workplace well-being.   The specificity will not only help you build an initial scope of services; it will also help you seek the right consultant support. 

Question #2: What outcomes do we want to achieve?

  • My favorite question to help you think about outcomes: “What do you want to better, different, enhanced, eliminated, shifted, or improved?” 

  • Examples of goals: improve employee sense of belonging; shift demographic diversity; enhance leadership abilities; resolve internal conflicts; transform organizational culture, or something else.

Question #3: Do we need Training, strategy development, or both?

  • Determine if your organization needs educational sessions to raise awareness and skills,  or, if you need strategic guidance to implement long-term culture or structural changes.


Understanding these roles and determining your organization’s needs are the first steps to take before seeking a consultant. When you get clear, it will help you confidently build a search process to bring on the right consultant to help you achieve your DEI and Culture Change goals. 


  1. Many leaders lack clarity around the types of consultants that exist to activate effective DEI and culture change efforts.

  2. Having a clear understanding of different consultant roles can help you make informed decisions on who to contract and what they can do to address your unique DEI and culture change needs.

  3. Begin your consultant search with clarity on what vision for change you want them to support.

  4. Choose consultants whose expertise and approach align with your strategic objectives can lead.

phot of company CEO, african american women,. caption on photo says ready to get expert guidance on your DEI efforts to create a great place to work? book an alignment call.  CEO is wearing a black blazer and a green shirt.  She is smiling wearing black glasses and a gold earring.
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