During a job search, have you ever wondered how to pick an employer that values diversity and inclusion (D&I)? Many organizations may show support for D&I in their communications, but how do you know which employer is the best choice for you? Whether you’re part of an underrepresented group, or wish to be part of an organization that provides an equitable environment for your coworkers, you should begin evaluating a prospective company’s diversity and inclusion activities before, during, and after your interview.
One quick way to find companies that value D&I is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Organizations that participate are scored for their policies, practices, and benefits that ensure equity for LGBTQ+ employees, with a score of 100 being the most equitable. Check out HRC’s 2022 list of companies to look for high scoring companies and visit HRC’s website to learn more. While HRC focuses on one underrepresented group, a good rating shows that the company prioritizes D&I in general.
Another way to determine whether a company values D&I is to review their annual report which can be found on the website of publicly traded companies. Look for the section labeled “Corporate Social Responsibility” or “Environmental Social Governance.” Companies serious about D&I will share internal metrics and their goals to improve them.
These methods may work best with larger companies. You can also review the company’s social media and advertising, which should show the diversity of their employees, reflect their culture and values, and support D&I celebrations and initiatives such as Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and Pride Month.
Perhaps the most telling sign of a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is the composition of their management team. Your research up to now may have shown that the company “talks the talk,” but do they “walk the walk”? The makeup of the company’s executive and senior management should be diverse, and if it is not clear from the website, LinkedIn research can help. In addition to reviewing out the senior leadership’s LinkedIn profiles, check out their status updates as well to look for signs they support D&I initiatives.
During the interview
There are several ways that you can assess a company’s commitment to D&I during an interview. First, how diverse are your interviewers? Their first impressions count for you as well, and you should expect that the people you meet during your interview are representative of the makeup of the organization. You can also ask whether the company has a D&I program, and about the goals and successes of any initiatives.
Additionally, you can ask whether the company has employee resource groups (ERGs) that help underrepresented colleagues share experiences and apprise the leadership of challenges they face. Common ERGs include groups for women, ethnicities, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and veterans. Inquire also about formal or informal mentoring programs, which are a great sign that a company cares about D&I, as they often improve the career development opportunities for underrepresented groups.
A hot D&I topic right now is salary transparency. In some US states, it is illegal to ask a candidate about their salary history during an interview since candidates from underrepresented groups can get stuck in a cycle of comparatively lower paying jobs. These candidates may be undervalued at one company, seek a better opportunity, then be thwarted by their low salary history. Companies that value D&I are listing salary ranges in job descriptions or ensuring that candidates are told the job’s salary range during the interview. This tactic is more equitable than placing the burden of the dreaded “salary question” on the candidate. How should you handle a salary discussion? It’s up to you, but know that asking for the salary range up front is reasonable, as is making sure you know the company’s budgeted range before answering the salary question if it arises.
Before you accept
There are other, more subtle aspects of the application, interview and hiring process that may tell you about the company’s diversity and inclusion values. Was the interview process welcoming and accommodating to your schedule and needs? Is the salary, job title, and description of your responsibilities competitive with similar roles at other companies, and was the company open to negotiations regarding any changes? Did the company seem supportive in the areas of work-life balance, working from home accommodations, health benefits/wellness, inclusion, career development, or any other areas important to your ability to thrive?
Remember, the company should be putting their best foot forward during the hiring process, and you are interviewing them as well. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to ask for a follow up discussion before you accept the offer.
Guest Author: Mary Canady has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is the founder of Biotech Networks, the leading resource for more than 50K life scientists to connect, learn, and grow. Dr. Canady has led marketing and communications teams to meet business objectives at large global life science companies as well as at biotech startups. A tireless advocate and mentor to life scientists, she offers presentations about networking and careers regularly. Canady is also a leader in advancing science communication, advocacy, and diversity and has led organizations and teams to further her life’s mission to empower every scientist to make a bigger impact.