Post: DEI Certification

A concept picture of a person holding a stamper. Dei certified.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the workplace have grown exponentially in recent years. As companies seek to build more inclusive cultures, many are looking to certify that their DEI efforts meet best practices.

Obtaining a DEI certification demonstrates to employees, clients, and the public that a company understands the importance of fostering an equitable environment. This is where all individuals can participate and feel respected, valued, and supported.

Read on as we explore the ins and outs of the certification process, some of the types available, its benefits, and more.

Understanding DEI Certification

DEI certification is the process of becoming formally recognized by a certifying body as having completed specialized training and demonstrated competency in DEI principles and practices. The certification aims to ensure individuals and organizations can foster a truly inclusive workplace culture.

DEI in the workplace has evolved tremendously over the last several decades. Where discrimination was once tolerated, companies now recognize diversity and inclusive communication as a business imperative. An increasingly globalized economy and changing demographics mean the workforce is becoming more diverse. To recruit and retain top talent, organizations must embrace differences and promote fairness.

Receiving a certification signifies an organization’s commitment to cultivating an environment where all identities are respected and have equal opportunities to succeed. It shows employees that inclusive leadership skills are a priority from senior leadership down. DEI certification benefits both employees and employers.

Employees have assurance their rights will be protected, while employers reap rewards like increased productivity, innovation, and loyalty from a content, represented workforce. Certification helps transform organizational culture into one defined by belonging, understanding, and justice for all through inclusive leaders.

Types of Certifications

There are several certifying bodies that offer recognized certifications related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Three of the largest organizations providing such certifications include the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Professional Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education (PADOHE), Credly, and any other certified diversity professional. Let’s take a look at some of them.

SHRM Certifications

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications, which cover topics like fair treatment in the workplace, equitable employment practices, and bias-free hiring and promotion.

Chief Diversity Officer Certification

The Professional Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education (PADOHE) provides the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) certification program, focused on issues faced by diversity leaders at educational institutions.


Credly is an open digital credentialing platform that works with various education and training providers to offer micro-credentials demonstrating specialized DEI knowledge and skills.

Online Inclusion Certificate Program

Programs available include Cornell University’s Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Graduate Certificate in Diversity Management, and LinkedIn Learning’s Certificate in Becoming a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional. These programs can be completed entirely online at one’s own pace or through a structured virtual classroom experience.

Intensive In-Person Training

Some certifications like PBC Consulting’s Certified Diversity Executive require an in-person multi-day training seminar to earn the credential. Whether pursuing designations entirely online or through a blended approach, DEI certifications demonstrate to employers an individual’s commitment to furthering diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace. Earning credentials from recognized institutions helps validate one’s competency in this important field.

Benefits of Certification

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) certification has grown in popularity in recent years as organizations recognize the benefits it can have in the workplace. Earning a certification demonstrates a company’s commitment to creating an inclusive work environment for all its employees.

Benefits include:

  • Attracting and retaining diverse talent: Job seekers want to work for companies with that value workplace diversity.

  • Improves employee engagement: When employees feel respected and supported, they are more likely to enjoy their work and stay with the organization long-term.

  • Enhances customer relations: A diverse workforce that understands different perspectives can better serve the needs of a diverse customer base.

  • Sparks creativity and innovation: Bringing together a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking has been shown to lead to more innovative solutions and ideas.

  • Reduces discrimination risk: Implementation of inclusive policies and programs through certification helps guard against expensive lawsuits and public relations crises down the road.

Certification Requirements

Obtaining a DEI certification ensures professionals have the skills and qualifications necessary to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations and communities. The following outlines the eligibility criteria, coursework, training modules, and assessment methods involved in achieving this respected certification.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a certificate program, candidates must have at least two years of professional work experience in human resources, organizational development, or a related role. Experience should demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through initiatives, task forces, or other involvement. Candidates must also hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from an accredited university.

Coursework and Training Modules

The inclusion certification program consists of online coursework covering topics such as unconscious bias, intersectionality, cultural competence, and structural discrimination. Candidates will learn practical strategies for implementing anti-racism policies and practices. Case studies and scenarios help students apply concepts to real workplace challenges. The program also includes virtual participation in panel discussions, conferences, and workshops with DEI experts and community leaders.

Assessment and Evaluation Methods

To assess competency, candidates must pass a comprehensive final exam demonstrating their knowledge of core DEI principles and best practices. Students also complete a capstone project applying what they’ve learned to develop an equity initiative tailored to their organization or field. Peer and instructor feedback is provided to help students strengthen their project design and implementation plan. Upon successfully completing all requirements, candidates receive DEI practitioner certification valid for three years, renewing their expertise over time.

Preparing for Certification

If you’re planning to pursue a DEI certificate program, it’s important to properly prepare to maximize your chances of success on the exam. Certification demonstrates your commitment and competency in this vital field, so taking the necessary steps to prepare will serve you well. Here are some things to take into consideration.

Building a Strong DEI Foundation

Before diving into intense study, take time to build a strong foundational understanding of key DEI concepts and frameworks. Explore scholarly articles and thought leadership pieces to develop a well-rounded perspective. Consider taking introductory DEI training or online courses to learn the fundamentals.

You’ll want to be well-versed in topics like unconscious bias, social identity, discrimination and oppression, organizational culture change, and intersectionality. Developing this foundation will help the review process and exam material click into place more easily.

Resources and Study Materials

Determine which certifying body you plan to pursue and research their recommended study materials. Common resources include textbooks specifically made for DEI certification prep. Look for material that comprehensively covers all competency areas and use official practice exams if available.

Join relevant professional organizations and LinkedIn groups to stay informed on new happenings and tools in the field. Consult your network for additional study material recommendations from those who have passed certification themselves.

Tips for Success

  • Develop a structured study schedule and stick to it consistently

  • Actively quiz yourself and have others quiz you to test your knowledge of topics

  • Identify any weak areas and focus extra study time on those competencies

  • Practice exam simulations under timed conditions to mimic the real experience

  • Relax and get plenty of rest the week before the exam to be well-rested on test day

  • Bring approved study materials or notes if allowed during scheduled breaks

Advancing Inclusion: The Role of DEI Certification in Modern Organizations

While DEI certification programs are still evolving, achieving certification can be an impactful step toward inclusion strategies that make positive changes within an organization and community. By committing to ongoing education, assessment, and action planning, certified companies have an opportunity to improve their strategic culture efforts critically and implement real solutions to longstanding issues. For companies who pursue DEI certification sincerely and follow through on their pledge to do better, it may help bring us one step closer to that vision.

 For those keen to delve deeper into the sphere of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we invite you to explore our comprehensive resources. Discover essential insights and strategies in our blog post on ‘DEI Training for HR Professionals‘, where we outline key steps for cultivating an inclusive workplace. Join us on this continuous learning journey and be part of the transformative change toward a more diverse and equitable professional environment.

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