DEIB in Coaching 4) Serve Marginalised Individuals/Groups | Abena Baiden & Emma-Louise

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

We're excited you're here!

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely looking for ideas or wondering how coaching can be more inclusive. Yes, this topic of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) can be intimidating or uncomfortable, but the more we normalise it—and approach it with empathy—the easier it will become. Whether you agree or disagree with the points made in this article, it is our hope that reading it promotes awareness and, of course, action!

This article is part of a series where we've suggested 7 Ways You Can Increase (Your) Cultural Awareness in Your Coaching Practice. Here we explore Step 4) Find Opportunities to Serve Marginalised Individuals or Groups.

But if you haven't already done so, we recommend you read DEIB in Coaching 1) Identity Mapping Exercises: The Identity Iceberg (Free .PDF Tool) and complete your identity map before reading on. Why? So that you can join us on this thinking journey and really embrace the 'why' behind what comes next.

What's in this Article

In this article we explore:

  1. Serving the underserved: What does marginalized mean?

  2. Why this matters (whatever your own background)

  3. What does it look like to 'serve' marginalised groups? (with examples)

  4. Wrap-up & Where next?

Serving the underserved: What does marginalized mean?

First, let's explore what we mean by 'marginalised'. While there are many definitions available around the web, here we’re referring to individuals and groups that find themselves isolated, ignored, or otherwise intentionally or accidentally disempowered by 'mainstream' society.

This includes those with less economic power (which we'll talk about in a future post) but could also be religious and ethnic minorities, the elderly, women (of colour) in leadership, people with disabilities, indigenous populations, LBGTQ+, single parents and so on.

Visit Culture Ally for more on What is a Marginalized Group?

Why this matters

Regardless of our own backgrounds, we inevitably become coaches because we want to help others. There's nothing quite like that feeling of seeing your client break through the obstacles they face, overcome challenges and achieve their goals—it's pure joy!

And when you consider serving people beyond those you might usually reach, you expand your scope of who you can help and multiply your potential to make a difference in people's lives.

But that's not all:

  • You also gain great satisfaction in knowing you're genuinely living into your values of inclusion and belonging.
  • You get to enjoy the 'feel good factor' of contributing to a more equitable society while practising the craft you love most.
  • Plus, it also just happens to be a great way to show the world what you stand for.

There are a couple of perhaps obvious provisos: Importantly, this should not be about "saving" anyone. And it must be a genuine act of service, not just a way to grow your brand.

And this all applies whatever your own background

You might visibly or invisibly be a member of a marginalised group and already be working with people you identify with.

And/or you might have had very little experience in working with those outside of 'mainstream' individuals or groups in your communities.

But whichever applies to you, this article invites you to think beyond your current circle to who else you might reach and serve—and how.

What does it look like to 'serve' marginalised groups?

Well, let's take a couple of examples and then add some creativity and imagination!

Here, at The Coaching Tools Company Emma-Louise took the (quite considerable!) time to create a product: a set of quotes that highlights quotes by diverse thought-leaders. In this way, Emma-Louise continues her mission of paying attention to representation in all the materials she produces.

In another, very different, example, Abena has run workshops for marginalised groups, facilitated training around inclusion, and gifted coaching to individuals facing discrimination. Furthermore, through someone else's act of service, Abena is herself a member of a coaching group for BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) doctoral students.

And, in case you hadn’t noticed, this series of articles is also our act of service—by putting the spotlight on discussions around Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, we hope to raise awareness and influence others to take action.

How else could this look? Well, as I hope you can see, serving marginalised communities doesn't just have to be directly about coaching. It could be through sharing any skills or knowledge you have! Here are a few more examples:

Here are some examples of how you could 'serve' those who are marginalised

  • Hands-on volunteering or sharing your expertise (coaching or otherwise).
    • For example working with a specific group such as Refugee Jumpstart who coordinate volunteers to various tasks such as social media, grant writing, technology and...yes, coaching!
    • Or Catchafire which connects professionals to nonprofits worldwide on virtual and remote projects (this link takes you to specific volunteering opportunities to use your coaching skills, but there are other volunteering opportunities too).
  • Share your DEIB learning journey. You don’t have to be an expert to inspire others to be more reflective in their practice; we (Emma and Abena) have made clear we don’t consider ourselves experts in DEIB, but we do believe in the goals of the movement and are willing to put time and effort into encouraging others to get involved in the discussion.
  • Develop a specific offering that appeals to marginalised individuals or groups and helps them achieve their goals.
    • This could be an ongoing/longer term program or a one-off Workshop or Zoom call eg. How to get a promotion or how to get fit and healthy.
  • Simply be more inclusive in marketing your existing programs. For more on this read: DEIB in Coaching 2) Review Your Marketing Materials (With Checklist)
  • Partner with a non-profits or NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) to offer your services.
  • Helpful free resources.
  • Free and Reduced Price Coaching Services for a specific demographic (we'll explore this more in a later article).

Wrap Up

We hope the examples above give you food for thought and inspire you to consider how you too can contribute to serving communities you might not previously have considered engaging with.

And remember that it also benefits you as you get to:

  • Enjoy the feel good factor of helping others, expanding the scope of who you help.
  • Live into your DEI values.
  • Show the world (and potential clients) a broader picture of who you are and what you stand for, both role modelling what is possible and boosting your business "brand".

And remember, you don't have to be an expert—just a willing learner with an open heart and mind.

And now it's over to you!

So, what do you think? What did you learn from this article? And importantly, what will you do differently?

Remember that if you decide to start 'diversity' conversations with fellow coaches in person or in online spaces, you are contributing to greater awareness and a more inclusive coaching industry.

Now 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.

Where Next?

Lastly, whilst you won't see a disclosure in every article on our blog, we think it's 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? Tell us what we missed or what else should be on these lists! 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 >>

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