Consulting: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Conduct a non-academic literature review


Career roles in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can be found in every type of industry. From organizations that have a commitment to furthering social justice, to companies who want to retain a pipeline of diverse talent, to educational institutions who are helping their diverse student population thrive, and beyond, career opportunities in DEI are being prioritized now more than ever before. Depending on the specific role, these professionals might be in charge of things like recruitment and promotion at a specific organization or they could be creating content that appeals to a more diverse audience or they might help provide solutions to clients and other stakeholders who are committed to DEI work.

DEI work is executed by both individuals and teams of professionals. Professionals can include consultants at a social justice organization where diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to all of the work being performed. DEI consultants’ clients are typically organizations and institutions who seek expertise in DEI to help them define goals, plan strategically, execute plans, and evaluate impact in order to affect social change. The scope of responsibility for this type of professional entails conducting non-academic literature reviews, writing impact reports, and presenting findings to clients, thought leaders and at conferences. They may also collect infographic and qualitative data, and create interview protocols with stakeholders (i.e., develop questions to learn more from local community members).

Your role

Working as a consultant at a social justice organization, you perform some work assignments independently, and you are also working as part of a small team to create change for the clients who seek out your expertise in DEI-related strategy and solution work.

The Process

  1. Ask clarifying questions to your supervisor/team to be sure you have all of the information necessary to begin your work. Define the scope of the project for the client.
  2. Develop learning outcomes for this project by thinking through what it is you want to know or learn as a result.
  3. Perform initial research by reviewing relevant books, journal articles, scholarly works, executive summaries, reports, etc. on the specified topic.
  4. Provide initial findings to your team; ask more questions, get feedback and make any edits or modifications.
  5. Weave the final information into a compelling narrative.

The Exercise

Your goal is to develop a broad yet concise, Wikipedia-like article on a particular subject or question that is relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion. While academic training prepares you to master a particular subject, the purpose of this non-academic literature review is to synthesize the most relevant and significant information. You are going for breadth over depth.

The final product will be used to inform your internal team, which strengthens the overall knowledge base of your organization. It will also be submitted as a deliverable to the client who hired you to complete this scope of work.

For the purpose of this exercise, imagine that you are a passionate changemaker who works as a consultant at a social justice organization. Your client is a large technology company who will be hiring their first-ever Chief Diversity Officer. They have asked you to summarize information on how the experience of racism affects the technology sector. If you’d like to work on a different topic, select one of these projects from the Saint Louis University’s Center for Social Action.

Task 1: Perform the initial research (step 3 of the process).

Begin by reviewing relevant books, journal articles, scholarly works, executive summaries, reports, etc. on how the experience of racism affects the technology sector. You’ll want to capture the following:

  • Describe the history and background on this topic.
  • Determine the touchstones already out there. What are the central views?
  • Note what the various perspectives are. What do the experts agree and disagree on?
  • What recent information or discussions are happening around this topic?
  • What are future directions or trends?
  • Distill out additional relevant information.

Task 2: Weave the final information into a compelling narrative (step 5 of the process) that:

  • Synthesizes the most relevant and significant information,
  • Is a narrative (3-5 pages) with an introduction, body and conclusion,
  • Show connections to works rather than just providing a summary of each, and
  • Includes your own perspectives

The Deliverable

The final product should synthesize your findings into a narrative that:

  • Tells a compelling story about the topic
  • Is clear and concise
  • Uses common everyday language (no academic jargon)
  • Is 3-5 pages double spaced in length

Sample deliverable coming soon!


The Action Cycle – helpful to determine and clarify timeline, process and objectives. 

The POP Model (Purpose, Outcomes, Process) – a model often used for strategic planning of impact projects. This can help to give focus as you plan by clarifying why you are doing it (what is the purpose) and what are the specific outcomes you hope to accomplish as a result (Steps 1 and 2 of the Process). You can then implement the necessary steps to achieve the intended outcomes.

Community Engaged Research Initiative e-Library, Duke University – articles, videos, and other capacity-building tools for researchers and community partners to equitably and fully engage in community engaged research

Skills Used to Perform These Tasks

  • Research and assessment
  • Verbal communication 
  • Written communication 
  • Ability to distinguish useful vs. interesting information 
  • Can synthesize information and be concise 
  • Incorporates everyday language that most people can understand
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Time and project management

Skills Used in This Field

  • Verbal communication 
  • Written communication 
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Collaboration and teamwork

Additional tasks in DEI training and Consulting careers: 

  • Creating interview protocols with stakeholders (i.e., developing questions you might ask to local community members)
  • Collecting infographic and qualitative data
  • Writing impact reports
  • Presenting your findings to clients, thought leaders and at conferences

You are viewing a job simulation. To get started, set up SMART Goals to perform this simulation in a reasonable timeline. If you have completed the task, fill out the Self-Reflection Sheet.

Read more about careers in Consulting on this industry-specific resource page by Duke University Career Center.

Simulation Author – Jennifer Levy, MEd – Duke University Career Center 

Simulation vetted by Micah Gilmer, PhD (Duke, Cultural Anthropology), Senior Partner, Frontline Solutions