Diversity Coaching FAQ’s

1. At the PSESD, what do we mean by “Diversity?”

The definition of Diversity is: “a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement. race, age; cognitive style; culture; disability (mental, learning, physical); economic background; education; ethnicity; gender identity; geographic background; language(s) spoken; marital/partnered status; physical appearance; political affiliation; race; religious beliefs; sexual orientation.” (The University of Tennessee Libraries Diversity Committee Spring 2001; Revised January 2003 (http://www.lib.utk.edu/diversity/diversity_definition.html)

2. What is the role of the Diversity Coach?

  • Provide support, either in person or over the phone, to colleagues who would like to address diversity issues in the workplace; especially when the employee may want to discuss this issue with someone other than his/her supervisor.
  • Provide support to agency employees who need assistance in navigating conversations about race when working with districts or other educational partners.
  • Assess an employee’s concerns to determine whether s/he should be referred to

Human Resources and/or other resources.

  • Connect employees to available resources such as Human Resources, PSA, the supervisor or the Employee Assistance Program as appropriate.
  • Assist employees in scripting a conversation to resolve a diversity issue with another employee.
  • Attends a two-day initial Diversity Coach workshop on February 27th and 28th to develop skills and gain knowledge about the role of a Coach.
  • Attends monthly meetings to receive training throughout the year to continue developing knowledge and skills.3. What makes a person a good Diversity Coach?PSESD Diversity Coaches have been nominated by their peers because they are people who:
  • Employees trust
  • Seem to have a natural affinity for helping
  • Colleagues naturally approach for help
  • Are often the people who reach out to those who may need help
  • Demonstrate professional maturity
  • Are committed to creating an AntiRacist Multicultural Organization
  • Practice the Principles that Guide Our Culture.
  • Show sensitivity and comfort in working with others who are culturally differentthan themselves.Diversity Coaches are not professionally trained counselors or therapists. They are provided with three days of initial training and can be thought of as a link between employees and professional resources. They are taught listening and problem-solving skills, as well as how and when to make referrals to other professionals.

4. Why is the Equity and Inclusion Committee implementing this program?

The Diversity Coaching Program is an integral part of the agency’s goal to create an AntiRacist Multicultural Organization. This is an organization that has “within its mission, goals, values, and operating systems explicit policies and practices that prohibit anyone from being excluded or unjustly treated because of race and any other social identity or status.” To that end, the ultimate goal is to create an environment where difficult experiences around cultural differences can be addressed and resolved in a manner that feels supportive for employees. This will result in a more inclusive environment.

Additionally, The Equity and Inclusion Committee has also received feedback from staff members that when diversity issues arise, some staff members will often turn to trusted colleagues for assistance. There are many reasons employees make this choice: some staff may feel hesitant to approach supervisors, especially if the situation involves the supervisor; some would like assistance on how to approach a supervisor to resolve issues; others would like to know how to access additional resources for support such as Human Resources or Employee Assistance.

Finally, as we continue to engage our school district partners in conversation about race, many ESD staff may find it helpful to receive assistance in navigating these often challenging conversations. In each of these instances, Diversity Coaches can provide assistance.

5. Why would I seek assistance from a Diversity Coach rather than my supervisor?

You might seek assistance from a Diversity Coach instead of your supervisor for a variety of reasons, including:

  • You may experience a conflict with your supervisor and would like assistance about how to approach your supervisor to resolve the issue.
  • You may experience distrust toward a supervisor based on past experiences, and may choose to seek outside assistance.
  • You may have already approached a supervisor and did not receive an appropriate or satisfactory response.

• You may simply want a fresh, objective ear to listen to concerns and provide feedback.

6. What diversity issues would prompt me to approach a Diversity Coach?

You may approach a Diversity Coach when you have experienced or witnessed perceived unfair treatment, and/or hear or receive derogatory comments based on any issue of difference. You might also consider approaching a Diversity Coach after attending an agency cultural competency training to further explore and process feelings and thoughts about the topic. Should you have a question as to whether or not an issue is appropriate for a coach, you can call a coach to inquire.

7. How much time will coaching take?

A coaching session could last from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending upon the severity of the situation at hand. You and your Diversity Coach must decide how much time you will need to appropriately address the issue at hand.

8. Will I be reimbursed for mileage and/or cell phone minutes used when I seek / provide assistance from a Diversity Coach?
The Diversity Coach program will not reimburse any employee or coaches for use of mileage or cell phone minutes used for the purposes of this program.

9. Can we coach by phone?

The Diversity Coach and the employee seeking assistance will determine whether a face- to-face meeting or phone call is the most effective way to provide /seek service. We recommend face-to-face meetings.

10. Can we coach by email or text?

Diversity Coaching should never take place via electronic communication.

11. How do I schedule a Diversity Coaching meeting?

In order to schedule a Diversity Coaching meeting, visit the Find A Diversity Coach
page. On this page, you will find a list of coaches along with their contact information and work location. Employees who would like to access this service will identify a coach with whom they would like to meet and then phone/email the coach directly to schedule an appointment.

12. When should coaching take place?

All coaching should take place during the work day only. You should not use your lunchtime or time after work to seek work with a coach. As a reminder, there is no flex time or overtime pay for this service so you should schedule coaching meetings during the day as long as it does not interfere with primary work responsibilities.

13. What if I contact a coach and the coach is unable to provide services at the time of request?
If the coach you have contacted is unable to provide services, you may contact another coach to provide services. If work with a coach was already underway and the coach has to remove himself/herself from the work, then s/he would be required to contact another coach for the employee.

14. How do I know if confidentiality will be maintained?

All coaches are required to maintain confidentiality. The only time that information must be shared outside of the Diversity Coach-employee relationship is when the issue requires Human Resources or the Union to be involved.

15. What is a “typical” situation for a Diversity Coach?

While there are many scenarios that may take place, a “typical” situation is one where an employee has heard a derogatory comment from another employee or supervisor and would like assistance in addressing the situation. A coach may provide support by

  • Role-playing a desired outcome; or
  • Scripting a conversation that would lead to resolution of the issue.Another typical response may involve agency cultural competency training. After attending a session, an employee may want to continue to process feelings or thoughts associated with the training topic.

16. How do I know there will not be retaliation?

As stated, the Diversity Coach and employee relationship remains confidential unless the issue requires an intervention by Human Resources or the Union (please see the Disclosure and Confidentiality information). The agency doesn’t condone retaliation of any kind. Should an employee experience any kind of retaliation from staff members once an issue has been addressed, the employee should report this to Human Resources within 24 hours.

17. How do I know this situation will get better?

While the Diversity Coach can never guarantee that the situation will get better, it is important to remember that the situation can only get worse if it is left
unaddressed. The Diversity Coach can continue to coach you until a satisfactory resolution is found, though the ultimate responsibility for resolution lies with you, not with the coach.

18. What do I do if my coach is also distrustful of my supervisor, or we share the same supervisor?
In this situation, both you and the coach may want to consider identifying a different coach to assist with the situation.