Almost a year after the death of George Floyd sparked protests nationwide and put the spotlight on racial injustices, many companies have since rallied behind social issues with statements of support and promises to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce.
For many of the millions of job seekers, finding an employer that addresses these equality and equity values is a key factor in their job hunt. But not all workplaces operate the same way. Not every company focuses on these important issues, and some don’t even address them at all.
“The most important thing for job seekers to know about inclusivity is that it’s an ongoing journey,” said Andrew Seaman, senior news editor for job searches and careers, at LinkedIn. “It’s not about what they did last week or a year ago, companies should always be working to create inclusive workplaces.”
Here’s how to sort through employers whose commitment to these causes are authentic or simply performative.
What to look for before you apply
While it’s a good idea to check out the company’s message and teams, start at the top and ask yourself a few questions, Seaman said.
What does the leadership team look like?
What does their website outline when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
Does the company have public and specific goals for this year, next year, and beyond?
Do they have statistics about their workplace and detail how they’re holding themselves accountable?
What have they already done to ensure equality among their employees, including resource groups, mental health, and advocates?
You can find a lot of information about a company from their website and also from the people who work there.
“What do current employees say?” Seaman said. “You can reach out to current employees to ask them how they feel working for the employer and whether they can be their authentic selves at work.”
You can reach out to current employees at the company and find out their experiences. Try also reaching out to former employees to see why they left. For some, it might have nothing to do with the company. But for others, they might share details about the company that you can use in your decision-making.
Use simple internet searches to your advantage. Public companies post annual quarterly reports that detail their performance over the last quarter or year. They may also shed light on diversity and inclusion initiatives the company has done or plans to do in the coming months or years.
What to do during the interview
If you’ve found a company that publicly aligns with your values and beliefs, it’s time to dig a little deeper during the interview process. Companies shouldn’t shy away from these discussions, Seaman said.
“Recruiters and hiring managers at companies that really care about inclusivity should feel comfortable discussing that topic,” he said. “A good place to start is asking whether the companies have employee groups that focus on diversity and what the company is doing to make sure people feel comfortable at work and can celebrate who they are.”
Ask questions like:
How are you instituting diversity and inclusion within and your company and how are you promoting it publicly and internally?
Does the company offer training and resources on diversity, inclusion, and equality?
What source of employee resource groups are available?
What training on unconscious bias is accessible for employees?
Are salaries viewable for all employees to see?
Also take note of nonverbal cues in the interview process, whether it’s with a recruiter, a panel, or the CEO. How is their body language when you ask questions about inclusivity? If they’re uncomfortable or abruptly change the topic, that might be a red flag.
Come prepared to ask as many questions as necessary to find out answers, even if the answers themselves aren’t what you were looking for. It’s better to cross a company off your list then go through the hiring process and work for a place that doesn’t line up with your beliefs.
Dori Zinn is a personal finance journalist based in South Florida. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, Quartz, TIME, and others.