DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been a diversity, equity and inclusion coach for about six years now, and it's been a great experience -- I love working with professionals of all ages and helping them learn, grow and educate themselves. In 2020 I realized that the demand for DE&I coaches was much higher than it had ever been before.
In 2022, however, the interest in that field has dropped off so much that I'm finding it hard to get booked for coaching. It's as if my work is no longer relevant to larger companies. Is it because DE&I coaching has become less effective? Or could the demand for my work have just completely disappeared? What advice can you offer a DE&I coach who isn’t booking nearly as many jobs today as I was two years ago? -- Struggling Coach
DEAR STRUGGLING COACH: There was a groundswell of interest in diversity, equity and inclusion after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent commitment of corporate America, in particular, to educate its workers about how to be more sensitive and inclusive. Many factors played into that moment, including the fact that most people were isolated during the period of quarantine, and companies needed to find ways to engage their teams and show them that they truly cared. People who had never even done DE&I work were hired to help open the eyes of people about how to treat each other.
Now, that wave has subsided. Companies are figuring out how to manage a hybrid workplace, remain profitable and move forward in an ever-changing work environment. Attrition is at an all-time high, and companies are focused on how to curb that far more than how they are treating people who are different from each other. To survive and thrive, you need to pitch yourself and your services as essential to the future. Position your work as vital to the health of the working world given how diverse the workforce is becoming. Get creative in your pitching and be sure to point out how long you have worked in this field. Your longevity should be appealing, as it proves you didn’t just jump in like so many others.