Coaching the Coach About Diversity

In today’s global environment, where technology is making the world smaller and diversity remains one of the most important topics, coaches can no longer remain ignorant of the impact these two tsunamis have on their coach approach and on their clients.  As coaches, we need to lift up our heads, so we can lift up others. 

The current climate is looking for innovative ways of approaching diversity and cultural differences within coaching. Diversity in coaching is about understanding the mindset of your client within their larger context – be it culture, religious belief, gender, race, or economic realities.  As described by the International Coaching Federation, “this includes a paramount emphasis on … the critical distinctions between various levels of coaching agreements, the criticality of a partnership between coach and client, and the importance of cultural, systemic and contextual awareness.”

By recognizing the deeper dimensions of diversity and the impact they have on our clients, we can encourage our clients to explore greater and even more challenging areas for growth and awareness. Specifically, coaches need to go beyond the content of the scenario or issue their client brings to a session and actually see it through the clients’ perspective.  This requires a coach approach that connects the coach with their client in a way that enables their client to actualize their own essential self within the larger context of who they really are. 

We are taught that a crucial component of coaching is to create a safe space in which people feel it is OK to reveal who they are and brave enough to take bold steps.  A more recent, and more relevant, aspect of coaching requires us to develop our systemic lens of inclusion to be wider and more powerful, to enable us to be present for our clients and to use the lens of inclusion as a powerful tool so that we can see, hear and understand the clients’ dimensions of diversity.

Once you have the knowledge of what diversity is and how it impacts a coaching experience – or more succinctly, how it impacts your client’s experience – you cannot go back to the traditional ways of coaching; you must go forward. A lack of diversity understanding among coaches means there is a real risk a client may unconsciously edit which parts of their whole self they bring to the coaching relationship, and therefore unknowingly (or even intentionally) limit their overall experience, thereby limiting their growth, awareness, and progress.

For some people, if they cannot find a coach that resembles them, their beliefs, their culture or other facets of their life, or someone who can see, hear, understand and accept their beliefs, it may delay or prevent them from seeking the opportunity to be coached.

We need diversity within the coach approach so that collectively we can see the world from a wider lens and have the tools to empathize and empower our clients. The best way to achieve this is for coaches to experience greater exposure to diversity through training, study and practice. Go be THAT coach!

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