How Consilio’s Bespoke Program Is Closing the Diversity Gap in Sales - Senior Executive
Leadership 9 min

How Consilio’s Bespoke Program Is Closing the Diversity Gap in Sales

Consilio's DEI leader talks advisory boards and diversity focused programs.

by Taylor Odisho on June 9, 2023


  • Consilio’s diversity team works with two DEI-focused advisory boards, one of which is internal while the other is comprised of client representatives.

  • Men make up 61.4% of business sales representatives compared to 38.6% who identify as women. Additionally, 72.7% of sales representatives identify as white, according to Zippia.

  • Consilio created a Sales Associate Program and a Project Management Apprentice Program in an effort to decrease diversity gaps.

Consilio may already be considered a global leader in eDiscovery, document review, risk management, and legal consulting services, but now the company has its sights set on becoming one of “the most client-centric cultures” in the legal services and technology industry. To work toward this vision, Consilio’s senior vice president of strategic client engagement and diversity and inclusion officer, Maureen O’Neill, has two strategies: focusing on diversifying Consilio’s employee demographics and collaborating extensively with clients.

To help bring DEI initiatives from Consilio employees and clients to life, O’Neill co-leads two advisory boards:

  1. An internal Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board comprising five members of Consilio’s executive team and more than 40 employees.
  2. A Client Advisory Board on Diversity & Inclusion consisting of 15 members who are corporate and law firm clients.

One area of improvement that Consilio recognized was diversity within its sales team, which reflected the lack of diversity in sales across the U.S. According to Zippia, men make up 61.4% of business sales representatives compared to 38.6% who identify as women. Additionally, 72.7% of sales representatives identify as white, followed by 14.3% who identify as Hispanic or Latino, 5.2% who identify as Asian, and 3.8% who identify as Black or African American. 

Read on for an edited excerpt of our exclusive interview with Maureen O’Neill to learn how Consilio is bridging the diversity gap within its sales team while bringing diversity to the forefront of its client relationships.

Senior Executive Media: How does Consilio’s internal Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board further your DEI initiatives?

Maureen O’Neill: It’s important for us to be sure that we are soliciting input and hearing the voices of our employees across the business. We really lean on the members of our advisory board to help us do that. They will communicate with the people in their spheres of influence, collect that input, and then bring it back to the board to help us understand where our focus should be. 

A couple of times a year, we also have brainstorming sessions with members of the advisory board where we’ll talk about what’s working for us now, what we should revisit, what new ideas we have, which initiatives we should take on, and where we see opportunities. We’ll take those brainstorming sessions and try to distill them into proposals for plans for the future. We also turn to our board members to help us find external resources. For a number of our board meetings over the year, we bring in outside speakers or outside experts to help educate and inform us, so we tap into our advisory board members’ professional networks to help us identify those people and bring them in. 

Senior Executive Media: What does collaboration look like between Consilio’s internal advisory board and the client advisory board?

Maureen O’Neill: We formed [the client advisory] board a few years ago with the goal of learning from our clients; identifying relationships with clients who have experience in this area and would be generous enough to share that experience to help guide and advise us. We also formed it with the goal of making sure that what we’re doing here at Consilio with diversity and inclusion meets the expectations of our clients and aligns with their values in this space as well… We have found that [members have] been helpful for the leaders of our employee affinity groups with respect to ideas for programming, brainstorming ideas for events, and sharing examples of some of the things their organizations have done with their employee resource groups. 

“My advice to other diversity leaders is to acknowledge where you are on your journey and establish your own definition of success that is right for the organization at that time.”

Maureen O’Neill headshot

– Maureen O’Neill, SVP of Strategic Client Engagement & Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Consilio


Senior Executive Media: What are some of the differences between your DEI efforts with employees versus clients?

Maureen O’Neill: With respect to clients, we engage with them in a few different ways. I talked about the advisory board and that’s kind of an advice and guidance type of relationship. For clients that are interested in it, we can also provide them with diversity metrics for the specific teams that are assigned to their companies or their matters. If a client would like to know ‘of the 50 people who are working on our matters, can you give us the gender breakdown and the race and ethnicity breakdown?’ That’s a way we serve our clients with respect to diversity and inclusion. 

We also partner with clients, not just members of the advisory board but clients in general, on joint activities. If the client or Consilio is bringing in a keynote speaker we think would be of broader interest, we’ll invite each other to join. We have some clients who invite us to partner up with them on community service projects for organizations that have a diversity or cultural focus. That’s another way we engage with our clients. 

With respect to our employees, a really purely internal facing effort would be this work that we do to create a culture of belonging, inclusion, and safe spaces. One of the main ways we do that is with our Employee Affinity Group program. These affinity groups provide employees an opportunity to come together around their shared interests, to learn to share stories, and to grow professionally. It allows them to expand their network at Consilio and build relationships across the business with people they might not work with day to day.

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Senior Executive Media: What are some of the creative ways you’re diversifying your talent pipeline and also promoting a diverse group of employees? 

Maureen O’Neill: One of the best examples of Consilio getting creative in establishing a pipeline would be our new sales associate program. We realized that sales talent with experience in eDiscovery and legal services is tough to come by, and diverse talent is particularly rare. In the United States, salespersons in services organizations tend to be predominantly male and predominantly white. Not surprisingly, Consilio’s sales force is majority white and majority male, and so because we know we can’t go to the market to find more diverse talent, we decided we’re going to create our own talent. 

We established this program in the last half of 2022…and the first class of 24 associates in the program will start in August 2023. The way it works is we’re recruiting early career sales talent. We’re recruiting folks either coming out of law school or who are a few years out of law school who are interested in a non-traditional career, a different way to use their law degree, and who might be interested in sales. We are going to put them through a yearlong training program. At the end of which they will be ready to hit the ground running as a salesperson at Consilio. We have committed that each class of the Consilio Sales Associate Program will be diverse, and our objective is to hire the class at the end of the program. 

We’re actively recruiting women. We’re actively recruiting people of color to make sure that this talent pipeline we’re establishing for ourselves will be a diverse group of people. One example would be partnerships we’ve developed with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have law schools. We’ve been sending recruiters to the law school to meet with graduating students to see if they’d be interested in applying for the program. We have engaged in a social media campaign about it, so we’ve been posting on LinkedIn about the program and the opportunity to apply. 

Another thing we’ve done is we have gone to female employees at Consilio who are in sales or business development and asked them to provide thoughts about why this program could be of interest to talented women and why we think they should apply, and we put it out on social media. We’re also going to our own professional networks. We have asked our leaders in our sales organization to spread the word; talk to your colleagues, talk to people in the industry, and generate some buzz, generate some interest in this program.

Senior Executive Media: What have been some of the initial reactions to the Consilio Sales Associate Program?

Maureen O’Neill: I think a common theme that has emerged is the notion that when you come out of law school, it’s sometimes difficult to get information on other ways to use your degree besides the obvious ones. The typical law school student is exposed to opportunities at law firms, at in-house corporate legal departments, and in government — those are all fabulous career choices, but it’s a bit tougher to get visibility into other options. I expressed that when I graduated from law school, I wish I had known that I didn’t have to take this traditional path of going to work at a law firm and working my way up through the ranks there and making partner… I ended up with a hugely fulfilling career at Consilio, and I’m so glad that I landed here, but I think the message is we want to be sure we’re exposing young lawyers or talented law students to these opportunities sooner in their career path.

Another program we have is the Sales Associate Program, which is our newest program. We also have a Summer Internship Program. We hire both undergrads and law students into the Summer Internship Program, [which] exposes participants to the different functions at Consilio. The participants rotate throughout the summer so that they get a better understanding of what Consilio is and what sort of career opportunities there are here. The idea being that we generate some interest among those students for a career path at Consilio and invite them to come back when they graduate. Our Summer Internship Program has also been a great source of diverse talent. We hire for that program with diversity in mind. For our 2023 class, 63% of interns are women and 50% of interns identify as a person of color. 

We also have a Project Management Apprentice Program. Consilio employs quite a large number of project managers in our business and finding good talent for project managers can also be a challenge. Similarly to the Consilio Sales Associate Program, we’ve decided we want to try to develop our own talented project managers. We hire a participant and train them up on how to become successful, effective project managers. Again, that Project Management Apprentice Program has been filled with a very diverse group of employees.

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