Hiring Inclusiveness Consultants: The CHC Inclusiveness Committee Selects an Inclusiveness Consultant

Joe laid out the questions at hand. "We need to decide, first of all, whether we need a consultant. Then we should talk about what we want them to do, and how we'll select them."

"Joe, I have a strong opinion about this," said Beth. "At least as it relates to the Board. I think that this is going to be a difficult topic for some Board members."

"Beth, I think you're right about this," said Jeff. "Board members would be more comfortable if an outside expert were leading them through this discussion."

Melody nodded. "It's the same with the staff, Mrs. Zwick."

"Seriously, Melody, I want everyone to call me Beth. And why do you say that?"

"Well, some people in the administrative staff might be a little worried talking about something personal like this in front of their bosses, especially if the bosses are in charge of the training," Melody said. She looked a little nervously at Trevor.

He frowned. "Melody, thank you so much for letting us know that," he said. "I really appreciate how you've been contributing here, and I agree that it would be helpful to have an outside consultant."

Across the table, Hector pointed to the clinical director sitting next to him. "Marcie, don't you do this kind of facilitating for your professional group? And didn't you do consulting on strategic planning for awhile?"

"I did," said Marcie.

"Well, we could save ourselves some money by having you work on this," Hector suggested.

Joe shook his head. "You're right about the money, Hector, and I'm sure Marcie would do an excellent job. But I want Marcie to have the experience of participating in these discussions and trainings."

"Thanks, Joe," said Marcie. "And given my experience, I'd like to suggest that we select a consultant who can provide overall guidance to our whole process.

"Why's that?"

"In my experience, it's hard to push through all the work that's involved in an in-depth planning process unless you have someone whose role is to hold people accountable, Marcie explained.

The group discussed this suggestion and came to a consensus that they would hire a consultant to provide overall guidance along with inclusiveness training. Joe made note of their decision. "But I want to emphasize to everyone that just because we're hiring a consultant doesn't mean that we are hiring a new leader for this process. We're the leaders of this process, and we can't forget that."

"I agree, Joe," said Marcie. "And I'd like to volunteer to be one of the people managing the hiring process for the consultant. Since I've done some of this work before, I think I could be helpful."

"Marcie, would you like someone to help?" said Trevor. "I think I could learn a lot from you, and I could help with some of the details."

"Sure, Trevor, that would be great."

Joe extended his arms to the group. "See, now there's leadership. Thanks, Marcie and Trevor. Now, I'm going to assume you two will come back to us..."

"...with a draft RFP, right?" Marcie smiled. "We'll use the roles and qualifications in the workbook to get started. How much money are we looking at? I know you said we'd have $3,000 for the inclusiveness training."

"I'll have to work on that and get back to you," said Joe. "Thanks, everyone for your great work today. We really made some progress. Next time we get together, I expect we'll be interviewing consultants."

After the meeting, Beth walked with Joe to the door of the clinic. "Joe, I want you to know that if you need more money for this, I'd be glad to talk to a couple of Board members. I think we could come up with a few thousand more."

"Thank you, Beth, that would be terrific. Your support for this process means a lot, to me and to the staff."

Over the next two weeks, Marcie and Trevor crafted a request for proposal (RFP), then distributed it by e-mail for comments from the committee. They also gathered suggestions of names for potential consultants. They issued the RFP and received four proposals in response, which they narrowed down to two finalists.

The committee interviewed the finalists and met to make their final decision.

"So," asked Marcie. "What do you all think?"

"I liked Ed," said Luisa. "He understands the kind of clients we work with. And I like how he explained his style of training." Ed Williams was the founder of Change Consulting and the first person they'd met. He was an African-American man in his fifties, a former school teacher who had come to management consulting in his forties. He had talked about his experiences working with health organizations on diversity issues.

"The women from Bold Strides were very good, too, though, don't you think?" asked Jeff. Two women had presented themselves as a team, one Asian and one white, both with degrees in sociology.

"They were, but I think they'd be pushing us, not working with us," said Hector. "I've seen those kinds of consultants in my old company. It's gets to be about their agenda, not about yours."

"I did get the feeling they were disappointed we weren't going toward the anti-racism training," said Melody.

"You're right," said Jeff. "I got that sense, too."

The group discussed the two consulting firms further, and came to consensus that Ed Williams would be the person they approached. Joe agreed to negotiate a contract and invite Ed to the committee's next meeting.