How much education does a diversity expert need? What type of education is satisfactory? These are difficult questions to answer due to individual differences. Some people come into the world with the propensity to promote inclusion—although statistically very few. However, most of us need to learn how to do so. Even if we have suffered discrimination and oppression, this does not necessarily translate into skills needed to consult and train. Fortunately it is a skill you can learn. We certainly need training and education for the specialization. Each of us certainly needs training and education for the specialization.
After nearly twenty-one years of serving as a in-house diversity leader, followed by training cultural competence and consulting, I offer the following advice to those who ask me what they need:
- An undergraduate degree or equivalent in social science (e.g., psychology, sociology, communication, etc.). A human resource degree is helpful, but unnecessary.
- A masters degree in counseling, psychology, social work, instructional technology and training, human resource management, organizational development, or a related field would be best.
- A PhD of PsyD in psychology, sociology, counseling, education, or some related area is unnecessary, but it will likely increase your overall problem solving and assessment skills.
- A certificate from a program that trains diversity trainers is great as long as the curriculum covers, at minimum, organizational consulting, instructional design, assessment, and training courses. A weekend certification is better than nothing, but is usually insufficient alone.
- Attending courses, workshops and seminars that offer you the range of content described above. This can often take years to complete depending on your resources.
If you are uncertain of your capabilities as a diversity professional, give the human capital assessment tool to three people you trust to give you feedback. One person should be your current or recent manager. Give another copy to a diversity professional or diversity instructor. Have a friend complete one as well. Ask them to be as honest as possible and avoid becoming defensive as they offer their opinion. This exercise can be invaluable if you select people who know you well academically, personally, and professionally.
Excerpt from DTUI.com Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) program manual. Click Here to Learn More.