Signs Your Potential Employer Walks the Walk

As you weigh job opportunities, you will consider many factors: commute, job responsibilities, work-life balance, salary, and more. But as American society continues the social justice conversations that were amplified following the murder of George Floyd, more job applicants are taking a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DE&I, into consideration. DE&I affects all elements of the employee experience. How can you tell if a potential employer takes DE&I seriously or is simply going through the motions?

Signs your employer walks_In Article

Before you interview

Your DE&I evaluation of a potential employer begins when you read the job posting. Look for evidence of gendered language. Is the posting gender-neutral (e.g., “the employee will” or “you will” rather than “he/she will”)? Do descriptions of successful performance sound stereotypically masculine (e.g., “competitive” words such as “driven”) or stereotypically feminine (e.g., “nurturing” words)? Are terms such as “digital native” or “top university” used that could indicate age or class bias? Does the job posting reference providing accommodations to job seekers?

Peruse the company’s website and social media presence for evidence of DE&I. Does the company reference its diversity initiatives and policies on its website, and within the HR team, do any employees have job titles related to DE&I? Is the company using real photos of its employees? If so, do they showcase employees of all races, gender identities, ages, and body types? Are individuals with disabilities depicted?

Job review sites can also provide a glimpse into culture, so long as you take reviews with a grain of salt. Most are written by employees who had “outlier” experiences—either strongly positive or strongly negative. Current employee LinkedIn profiles will give you an idea of who the company hires, along with the civic activities and initiatives the company encourages its team to support.

As soon as you start communicating with HR, pay attention to the communications you receive. Including pronouns in email signatures is a sign the company takes gender inclusivity seriously. Similarly, how are you addressed in initial interactions? Are you called by your first name, or are personal titles used that assume gender identity or marital status?

During the interview

Your interview will let you know whether the company is taking steps to ensure equity in hiring. For instance, if the interviewers appear to use a uniform set of questions, that shows a commitment to DE&I. Another good sign: If the interviewers are disciplined in not asking pleasant, small talk-style questions that could lead job candidates to reveal unnecessary information about their backgrounds (e.g., “Where did you grow up?”).

Ask questions about the company’s commitment to DE&I. Pay attention to how comfortable the interviewers seem discussing DE&I and whether they have answers at the ready that do not seem too high-level and glossy. Consider questions such as:

  • How does the company ensure career advancement opportunities are available to employees of diverse backgrounds?
  • Does the company offer resource or affinity groups for employees of diverse backgrounds?
  • What type of parental benefits does the company provide, such as paid leave or flexible work schedules?
  • Are there frequent conversations about DE&I within the company? What is senior leadership’s level of involvement?

If you are asked to take a pre-hire assessment, are you offered/told about accommodations upfront, or must a candidate request them? If the latter, is that a sign the hiring manager is making assumptions?

After you are offered the job

Salary negotiations can also be revealing. Often companies decline to list salary ranges in postings, instead stating that compensation will be “competitive” or “commensurate with experience.” If that was the case, once you are offered a number, is it accompanied by a rubric or range that explains how they arrived at the offer? Salary transparency is a signal the company is committed to pay equity.

Overall, the biggest clue to how seriously a company takes DE&I is how you felt during the hiring process. If you felt comfortable and secure in the process, that is a good sign. If you did not, something is probably off. Trust your gut.

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