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Vendor Selection: A Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

How do you select vendors for your organization? Is it based on price? Perhaps a personal recommendation or reviews? I view each vendor selection process with a commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Many HR professionals will tell you that employee retention has been a hot topic throughout the professional community. The ongoing Great Resignation saw much of the working population shifting seats to find a better fit. This included the internal staff at Firefly.

We viewed this paradigm shift as an opportunity to upskill and coach some of the internal staff to better lead and manage our team. Since coaching and career development are two of the most common areas that our staff wanted support in, we sought a third party vendor that could provide professional coaching. This required us to stay aligned to our values.

At Firefly Partners, Hiring Vendors is a Commitment to DEI

Doing our research and due diligence led us to three very different professional coaching vendors. Each had a different approach and digital platform. Given our remote work identity is important to our team, we needed a vendor that could interact digitally. We also wanted to see each organization’s commitment to DEI. While all three vendor candidates were timely in their quotes, and had professional sales teams, our commitment to ask the hard questions were met in very different ways. I asked questions like:

  • How their platform and coach pairing algorithm allowed for non-binary gender decisions?
  • If ASL or subtitle/transcription services could be provided for coaches?
  • What ethnic, gender, and racial diversity were represented in their coach populations?

These probing questions were often uncomfortable. Some sales teams remarked that “no one had ever asked them these questions before.” But… the best team took the time to understand why these questions were being asked, and then how they could best answer when there were clear gaps in their current product.

The Best Companies Hire for Inclusion and Digital Accessibility

Unfortunately, inclusion and digital accessibility are often the last items in product development. While the best companies hire brilliant minds that devote their time and energy to this solve, most organizations never consider these issues until a lawsuit has been raised against their company. Further, usually only enterprise level companies such as Google or Apple have this human power and budget.

The lucky few listen before it becomes a problem. I don’t expect perfection, but we ask for an open dialogue, and a commitment to do better, to reach for more, and to correct issues as they arise. These were traits of only one of the companies I researched.

Firefly Partners Leverages CoachHub for Growth and Development

CoachHub is one of the newer professional coaching organizations in the digital market. They provide a web-based platform that democratizes the professional coaching process. It seeks to remove financial, linguistic, and physical access barriers to professional coaching.

The platform uses a series of questions that creates an algorithm to match you with potential coaches. The process is easy, and additional options are available if you don’t find an optimal coach on the first try. Clients are able to view and listen to a sample of the coach in order to better understand their cadence and suitability to your needs.

CoachHub is a company in a place similar to Firefly where growth and development are at the forefront, so my feedback was met with open arms. The sales folks at CoachHub not only wanted to continue to listen to my feedback about weaknesses, they brought these items to the attention of the regional, national, and executive team. Additional high-level product staff joined the successive conversations and my sales team took these difficult DEI questions straight to the open CEO forum. These conversations opened doors and unlocked levels of access I have not felt with any other vendor.

Firefly Partners Now Advising Member of CoachHub’s Product Community

We know our use case was small, and the number of seats we wanted to purchase was a small drop in a big bucket. But this small drop made a big wave at CoachHub, and I’ve been asked to be an advising member of their product community. My input will make an impact to create a more inclusive future in a Global product that so many will find benefit in.

So I challenge the decision-makers out there. Spend the time, put your money where impact and advancement are being made for greater good. Advance inclusion with your partners and vendors, and together, we can make the future more verdant and just. Select a partner that understands your intent and wishes to create optimal impact.

Keep fighting the good fight,

~Ming

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