DEIB in Coaching: Introduction plus 7 Ideas to Help | by Abena Baiden & Emma-Louise

3 Diverse Coaches Smiling for Intro to DEIB Article

Diversity is a fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an outcome. Arthur Chan, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategist

If you’re reading this, you're most likely looking for ideas or wondering how coaching can be more inclusive. And whether you agree or disagree with the points made in this article, it is our hope that reading it promotes awareness.

No doubt you got into coaching because you greatly enjoy seeing people grow and tap into their potential. This can be deeply satisfying.

And we all know that creating a safe space is essential for the coaching relationship. But did you know that who we are in relation to our clients also impacts our relationship—and how safe our clients might feel with us?

Cultural competence in coaching is the way forward

In this increasingly-globalised world, we are now more than ever likely to encounter clients whose identities differ from ours in ways big and small. For that reason, it's essential we are aware of our own biases, beliefs, and values and how they impact our perspective—in other words, we need to be reflexive1 practitioners who are culturally-competent.

1 Reflexive practitioners are coaches who intentionally examine their own assumptions and motives. They consider how these influence what they do or think in any given situation—especially in the coaching space.

Reflexivity goes hand-in-hand with valuing diversity (recognising and embracing differences in culture, identity, and experiences). These two approaches are essential in coaching as they enable us to understand our clients, and support them in achieving their goals in a way that is meaningful and respectful to their unique experiences.

This isn't easy work!

If you're thinking that bringing concepts such as race into the coaching space feels dangerous and taboo, you're not alone as Roache and Passmore point out in their report entitled Racial Justice, Equity and Belonging in Coaching 2. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do this important work.

Roache and Passmore's report offers insights into many issues including colour-blindness, but the advice given can be transferred to other aspects of identity such as race, class, gender, socioeconomic status and so on.

Informed by this report, and for coaches ready to do the work and meaningfully reflect on how their identities intersect and depart from those of their clients, below are some thoughtful starting points.

7 Ways to Increase (Your) Cultural Awareness in Your Coaching Practice

  1. Create an Identity Map/s: Reflect on 'who' you are, and how you connect and contrast with others.
  2. Audit your Marketing Materials: Be intentional about the impact of your marketing materials: who your materials attract and/or repel.
  3. Onboarding: Make inclusion and identity an explicit part of your onboarding process.
  4. Service: How could you contribute to promoting coaching among minority and/or marginalised communities?
  5. Inclusion Statement: Show support for diversity (DEIB) and be clear about your openness for working with diverse clients.
  6. Make Coaching Financially Accessible: Consider how you can make your coaching available to those who may not have the necessary financial resources.
  7. Advocate: Use your power with awareness, courage and kindness (Fierce Kindness).

In future articles, we'll be sharing ideas (with tools as required) to help you explore and implement each of these 7 concepts in more detail.


I hope this introduction has piqued your interest!

If so, watch for the next in this series of 7 articles that looks specifically at what each of us can do in our coaching businesses to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and minimize our own blind spots!

And know that if you decide to start 'diversity' conversations with fellow coaches in person or in online spaces, you are contributing to greater awareness and (hopefully) inclusive coaching practice and being a champion of inclusion.

There will be always some who find this topic threatening and uncomfortable, but the more we normalise and approach it with empathy, the easier it will become.

Where Next?

  • Next article coming soon: Create an Identity Map/s: Reflect on 'who' you are, and how you connect and contrast with others
  • And if you didn't already, you might like to read the story of how these articles came to be here >>

Lastly, whilst you won't see a disclosure in every article on our blog, it feels important to do so when covering this DEIB topic:

DISCLOSURE: This article has been written from the perspective of a female who is (largely) heteronormative and of White European descent and another atypical female who is of Ghanaian, Irish, and British descent. We acknowledge that even with both our perspectives and best intentions, we may (like everyone) have blind spots and are open to discussion about these.


So what do you think? What did you take away from this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Author Bios

Emma-Louise Elsey HeadshotContributing author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003. She's the founder of both The Coaching Tools and her latest venture, Fierce Kindness where she shares personal tips, tools and ideas to transform ourselves—and our world! Originally a project/relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she's combined her passion for coaching, creativity and love of systems to create 100+ brandable coaching exercises including 30 completely free coaching tools. She serves coaches through her newsletter for coaches and loves to offer ideas for your coaching toolbox!

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Contributing Author:

Abena Baiden (she/hers) GMBPsS is the ACC- and ICF-trained founder of Positively Flourishing. Abena runs adult and teen coaching programs to promote wellbeing and personal development with her practice firmly rooted in the values of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. If not in the classroom or coaching space, you'll find Abena studying for her doctorate (which focuses on coaching in education) or exploring the world from her latest base as an international educator and coach. Lift the lid a little more here

Learn more about Abena & see all their articles here >>

Image of Smiling trio of diverse female coaches against blue background


    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Janet, thank-you for taking the time to comment!

      So, assuming you mean numbers 4 and the country comparison tool (which is bulleted and could be number 6) under the heading: Here are "5 areas of your onboarding process to review", we weren't making any assumptions at all.

      Well, other than the possibility that coach and client could have different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. And of course, we all have slightly different "identities"!

      Perhaps there is an interpretation we missed? If so, please let us know 🙂

      Warmly, Emma-Louise


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