Job search guide: finding companies that value diversity & inclusion

By Jamie Birt

Updated 21 July 2022 | Published 30 November 2020

Updated 21 July 2022

Published 30 November 2020

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 4+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Diversity and inclusion are two separate concepts that are most powerful when they are practised hand-in-hand. Diversity should be sought after, celebrated and nurtured in the workplace through acts of inclusion. If working for an employer that prioritises diversity and inclusion (D&I) is non-negotiable for you based on your core values, it can be helpful to understand exactly what D&I is and how to tell whether companies truly value it in their company culture. A company that is truly diverse and inclusive doesn’t only hire individuals with different backgrounds. These values require top-to-bottom action and should affect every level of the business.

In this article, we’ll define what it means to be diverse and inclusive in the workplace and why it’s important, including how to determine whether a company promotes a diverse and inclusive culture.

What is diversity in the workplace?

Indeed’s Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging team defines diversity in the workplace as 'The skills, backgrounds, cultures, experiences and abilities that shape your identity and reflect the global communities in which we operate. Teams with different work styles, problem-solving techniques, life experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and skill sets make innovation possible'.

There are many characteristics of diversity such as race, age, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation and disability. Diversity starts with the hiring process, but shouldn’t end there. Diversity can be seen in the events a company sponsors, their vendors and supply chain, volunteer opportunities available to employees and organisations/non-profits they’ve invested in.

Related: What is workplace diversity? (With challenges and tips)

What is inclusion in the workplace?

Indeed’s Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging team defines inclusion in the workplace as 'Actions and behaviours that create a culture where employees feel valued, trusted and authentic – and that their voice is heard so they can contribute fully and thrive'.

Examples of inclusion in practice include offering workshops and training centred around diversity and inclusion, implementing goals towards attaining diversity and inclusion and supporting employee inclusion resource groups or councils.

Related: Inclusion in the workplace: examples, definition and tips

Why are diversity and inclusion valuable?

Companies that adopt a diverse and inclusive culture see an increase in creativity, innovation, employee satisfaction and retention. One study found that companies with above-average diversity in their management resulted in 19% higher innovation revenue than companies with below-average diversity.

As an employee, it’s important to feel respected, valued and like you belong for your emotional well-being and job performance. Social belonging is a fundamental need, yet 40% of people say they feel isolated at work. This leads to lower organisational commitment and engagement.

Furthermore, in times of turmoil and uncertainty (such as those we’re experiencing now), it’s vital that employees belonging to minority groups feel supported by their company. LaFawn Davis, VP of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Indeed says, 'We’re all experiencing the world we live in in different ways. And we have different identities. We come from different communities. And that’s what diversity is really all about. It’s about acknowledging and celebrating those differences when traumatic experiences occur'. She goes on, 'Employees' productivity might go down, innovation slows, capacity, morale, performance and psychological safety might decline. So it’s necessary for us to set a culture of inclusion and belonging in our teams within our organisations and create a space to know that people have been heard, acknowledged, valued and supported'.

7 ways to identify whether a company values a diverse and inclusive culture

1. Read the job posting

Because job postings are one of the main ways to recruit potential employees, there are some things you can watch out for that may signal a company that isn’t practising diversity and inclusion. Things to watch out for may include:

  • Vague verbiage

  • Requirements that are misaligned with the level of the position

  • Benefits that only appeal to a specific lifestyle (e.g. ping-pong table, beer on tap, weekly happy hours)

  • Gendered language (ninja, dominate, hacker, diva)

2. Visit the company website

There are many places to look for signs of a diverse and inclusive culture on a company’s website. Start with their core values and mission statement to see if there is any mention of fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion or belonging. Next, look at the photos they’ve posted of employees. Does it look like they’re representing a diverse talent pool? Check whether they mention any internal inclusion resource groups or councils – examples include LGBTQ+, women, veteran and Black inclusion groups. You can also see if the company is involved in giving back or volunteering in your community.

3. Search their social media

Browsing a company’s social media presence is another helpful way to preview their culture. Companies typically post photos of events and employees and may share company news or updates on their accounts. Look for posts that take a stance. For example, have they posted a message supporting the LBGTQ community this month? June is Gay Pride Month in the UK, so you could look for posts documenting the company’s involvement with their local Pride Parade or celebrations they have planned at the office.

Many companies have also recently made public statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on their social media accounts. Other things to look for are diversity in photos of employees, messages speaking to their commitment to diversity and inclusion and the presence of inclusion groups.

4. Get in touch with current or former employees

Contact employees you know, or use social networking sites to message someone at the company. Ask for an informational interview to learn about what the company does to promote diversity and inclusion. For sample questions, read on.

5. Ask questions in the interview

Ask questions about diversity and inclusion at every stage of the interview process, from phone screen to onsite. Usually, interviewers leave five to ten minutes at the end of an interview for the candidate to ask questions. This is your chance to gain insight from employees, leaders and hiring managers representing the company.

Stephen McQuinn, Senior Technical Recruiter at Indeed, suggests asking interviewers these questions targeted towards diversity and inclusion:

  • What are the most important values of your company?

  • How do you promote Diversity and Inclusion?

  • An inclusive environment is valuable to me, how do you promote inclusivity amongst your teams?

  • What resources and/or benefits do you offer employees?

  • Do you have any employee resource groups?

  • Does the company provide D&I training such as Unconscious Bias?

Related: 9 Sample Diversity Interview Questions and Answers

6. Observe during the interview

You can watch out for cues of a diverse and inclusive culture throughout the interview process. When attending an in-person, on-site interview, look around the office for the representation of diversity in the people, space, photos and art.

If you’re interviewing virtually, you won’t have the chance to look at the office space in person. Look for diversity (e.g. age, ethnicity, gender) in the interviewers themselves. If it’s a panel interview and the interviewers are diverse, consider whether they are all getting equal time to answer/ask questions. Lastly, take note of the interviewer's body language and comfortability when answering the questions you ask from the above section. It could be worth noting if they seem uncomfortable, or have closed-off body language (e.g. arms crossed, looking down or away).

When emailing back-and-forth with your recruiter and interviewers, take notice of whether or not they include their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. Additionally, be aware that the interviewers aren’t asking any personal questions such as your age, marital status, sexual or religious orientation.

7. Check their benefits

Benefits are a good way to see if the company is supportive of all employees. Diverse and inclusive benefits include adoption assistance, floating religious holidays, family leave for both parents, senior care, flexible work schedules and mental health support. Company benefits are typically listed on their website or in the job posting. If you don’t see them, ask the recruiter for a list of benefits after the initial phone screen.

Related: 20 common types of employee benefits

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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