Integrating Cultural Humility into the Coaching Process

Coaching has become an integral part of professional development in the corporate world. What’s been missing are practical tools to give coaches what they need to operationalize DEI with their individual and organizational clients. Sarah Prince with TI Verbatim Consulting explains how this opening led to the creation of a ‘Coaching with Cultural Humility’ program set to launch in April.

February 20, 2024 – Building a positive workplace culture has become one of the top priorities for organizations around the world. Since the pandemic, many employers have focused on building workplace environments in which their employees can feel safe, engaged, inspired, and productive. According to human capital experts and talent industry leaders, it is positive workplace culture that now separates the most successful companies from the average ones. It increases employee retention, builds engagement among workers, and increases productivity and the bottom line.

With all the positive outcomes that good culture brings, organizations are looking to find effective ways to not only understand their own unique cultures, but to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging to fully unlock the value of the talent within their organizations. But when it comes to discussions on building a strong culture through consulting and executive coaching, often missing from the equation is a focus on the training that coaches receive to provide a curriculum that prepares clients for success while also navigating cultural differences during coaching itself.

To that end, TI Verbatim Consulting, a culture assessment and DEI-oriented consulting firm, combined the wisdom of coaching experts and the expertise of in-house training to meticulously craft a bespoke Coaching with Cultural Humility program. The goal is to give organizations and individuals practical tools to operationalize DEI and create a program that coaches can then carry out with their own clients.

Program Background

In creating a new generation of coaches, Coaching with Cultural Humility, led by Tahitia Timmons, Cindy Barnaby, and TIVC’s CEO Jean Ibañez Payne, promises to deliver a deeper understanding of the International Coaching Federation Core Competencies, help participants learn effective strategies for client engagement, and share skills to coach in diverse cultural settings.

The program will operate in alignment with TIVC’s training ethos of operationalizing DEI at both the organizational and individual levels. The versatile program offers three tracks for learners: internal coaching, external coaching, and coaching skills for leaders, allowing for a tailored approach to their unique coaching space. The curriculum also incorporates short instructional videos, introspective journaling, real-time discussions, coaching triads, guided workshops, and mentoring exercises.

In effect, the program prepares coaches for success in coaching and fulfills the educational requirements for the ICF’s ACC credentialing, including 100 hours of coaching experience. Everyone who completes the program will receive a digital badge to highlight their demonstrated new skills.

Why ‘Coaching with Cultural Humility’?

The underlying aspiration of TIVC’s latest initiative is to equip the current and future generations of coaches to be effective in an increasingly diverse workforce. By raising the topic of coaching curriculum, the program’s aspiration is to increase the conversation around the importance of culture consulting and coaching, while reminding organizations that coaching is only as effective as the curriculum the coach has received.

Related: 4 Reasons to Focus on Building a Culture of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Helping coaches to integrate DEI concepts into their coaching practice is vital in maintaining relevance with the evolving landscape of the professional world, according to experts in the field. “When I think about cultural humility, I think about two things: It is an intentional practice that first helps individuals remember the power and limitations of their own cultural lens; and it encourages a lifelong commitment to acknowledging and also respectfully engaging with the unique cultural context and lived experiences of everyone they meet,” Dr. Prince said.

Psychological Safety: A Foundation for an Inclusive Workplace
Many business leaders are referring to the past year as “The Great DEI Resignation” as hordes of chief diversity officers and DEI leaders are quitting their roles or being pushed out – a result of insufficient buy in from colleagues and other leaders, or budget constraints. As a result, it is important to reassess the approach companies are taking to DEI and, more importantly, consider how they plan to build DEI efforts with a foundation of psychological safety.

At its core, psychological safety refers to an environment where individuals feel safe to express their opinions and ideas without fear of negative consequences such as ridicule or punishment, and instead create an environment that encourages open communication, risk-taking, growth and learning from mistakes and setbacks. When employees feel psychologically safe at work, they are more likely to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences. This sense of safety fosters creativity, innovation, and ultimately leads to better decision-making processes. “When talking about diversity, something that often gets missed is being inclusive of it,” said Saul Gomez, director of IDEA at TI Verbatim Consulting. 

So how does this translate to a coaching context? “It means that coaches understand that every client they might work with is coming to that relationship with their own individual dimensions of diversity, and their own unique cultural contexts,” said Dr. Prince. “That informs the way they see the world, their values, their beliefs, and their perceptions. If coaches can remain open and curious to their client’s unique cultural context, while also being aware of their own and keeping in mind how both can impact coaching conversations or the coaching relationship, they will be engaging in the practice of coaching with cultural humility,” she noted.

Pilot Launch

The pilot launch of the Coaching with Cultural Humility program is scheduled for April, with plans for continuous operation in a post-pilot phase. The program aims to be ICF-accredited this year, enabling successful learners to sit for their ICF ACC coaching accreditation credential.

Related: 6 Steps for Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture

“The reflective activities help with live discussions, including the ability to interact with peers, and the instructor,” said Dr. Prince. “What we’re really proud of is the guided workshops. This is something that we’ve added to help coaches get a head start on building out their coaching practice, so that they leave the program with a roadmap for their own coaching practice,” she added.

While the program’s initial genesis was building an educational platform for professional coaches, it is also ideal for leaders who are intent on honing their coaching skills to maximize employee performance, foster learning and growth, improve communication, and develop future leaders.

Building Roadmaps

“The hope is that with the guidance of our instructor, learners will work together to build out those roadmaps of their next steps. It takes the guesswork out of ‘how do I take these broad or abstract concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and put them into my coaching practice or imbue my own organization with these ideas?’ which is different from traditional coaching,” said Dr. Prince.

The TIVC coaching program also acknowledges the multiple professional spaces a coach or participant might occupy. “Traditional coaching education programs are typically one size fits all. But we’ve organized around three tracks so that our coaches can choose,” said Dr. Prince. “They still work as a group, but those three unique tracks are internal coaching as part of an organization, external coaching, and finally coaching skills for leaders who want to use coaching practices for their own personal growth and the growth of their employees.”

Learners in the program, she said, can select the track that is most appropriate to them and they are then guided through creating a tailored coaching practice plan that gives them a head start on those next steps in their coaching journey.

“Our goal is to create a new generation of coaches who will be well-equipped, regardless of the coaching space they occupy, to engage effectively with a more diverse workforce, and to ensure clients reach professional and personal goals that are authentic to them,” said Dr. Prince.

The firm’s 16-week, 62-hour program pilot is launching in April. Click here to sign up and participate or, send any questions you have to

Related: Shaping a Culture of Inclusion

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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