Coaching Competently for the Times

A group in deep thought during the Accelerator in 2019.

As a coach, I have spent years helping clients excavate much of the internalized doubt that culturally incompetent coaching caused.

Working with my first coach was transformational. But it didn’t take long working in the coaching industry for me to discover much of our coaching training and practices are rooted in notions of western supremacy, hustle culture and empire building. While these notions are very marketable, they often leave clients with short term solutions and shallow results. 


Over the years, I have worked with countless clients who have been underserved by coaches and healers who were unaware of their cultural biases or the historical underpinnings of their methods and theories. Instead of being thought provoking or challenging their clients to be their best selves, often coaches left their clients from marginalized communities feeling more marginalized, oppressed and harmed. 


As a coach, I have spent years helping clients excavate much of the internalized doubt that culturally incompetent coaching caused. As a DEI practitioner I work with coaches to build their knowledge and personal equity and inclusion practice which in turn improves their coaching skills. 


And you know what? It helps ALL of their clients.


To be clear, although it is a solid start, coaches and other helping professionals need to go beyond cultural competence. Cultural competence is demonstrated with knowledge of different cultures, a development of positive attitudes toward cultural differences, and the ability to communicate skillfully across cultures.


Equity and inclusion work goes much deeper than cultural competence. A coach, therapist or other helping professional needs a well-developed DEI foundation, which is not typically taught in coaching training programs.  Coaches with a strong DEI foundation eschew the hyper-individual approach to clients. Instead they see their clients as humans with social identities that are impacted radically, pervasively, in different ways and to different degrees by the cultures  of white supremacy, cis-hetero patriarchy, ableism and capitalism. 


It is damaging to offer to a client that they adjust their attitude when it’s a harmful system that needs dismantling.


Like other helping professionals, coaches come to their work out of desire to support and care for people. And it is this personal drive to “do good and be good” that keeps coaches from taking responsibility for the harm their practices unintentionally cause. As we’ve learned, there is a difference between intention and impact. 


The bad news is that despite an increase in organizational investment in DEI efforts over the last two years, the experience of BIPOC in the workplace is getting more damaging, not less.  According to a recent report “Unsafe, Unheard, Unvalued: State of Inequity,” published by Hue, “BIPOC are three times as likely to consider leaving their employers due to the emotional burden related to their race at work. This has increased vs. a year ago.” The report is worth reading in its entirety.


We are all called to do better by the people most marginalized by dominant culture. It’s time.


Toward that end, Inclusive Life is now offering a new program: The Inclusive Life Coaching Certification: Building A Liberatory Foundation for Your Coaching Practice Brick by Brick.  Please join us and also share the word with your friends who are healers, coaches, therapists, and other helping professionals. 

Interested in learning more?

We invite you to hear directly from Nicole about why this certification matters and all the pertinent details involved in the program.

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