Evaluating Your Next Employer’s Commitment to Diversity

As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, diversity is becoming a business necessity, leading companies to promote their commitment to inclusion. Employees reap tangible and intangible benefits from workplace diversity, but how can you evaluate a potential employer’s true commitment when, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 41 percent of managers say they are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives?

Here are some steps you can take as you progress through the interviewing process to ensure that you will end up working for a company whose values align with yours:

Research the company. If you do your research first, you may be able to find the information you need without asking pointed questions during the interview. For instance, if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and want to know whether the company offers partner benefits, check out their website, as many companies now offer detailed descriptions of benefits packages.

Study the company’s literature carefully. Employee photographs can give a good indication not only of a company’s diversity, but also of its promotion practices. A company with African-American employees but no managers can be revealing.

Try to find someone who works for the company or knows someone who does. Getting inside information on company politics can often be extremely helpful. Employers frequently check out candidates through contacts they may have at an applicant’s previous or even current company. There’s nothing wrong with using the same tactic to get a feel for a prospective company’s diversity practices.

Look into possible EEO lawsuits pending against the company. If you are concerned about harassment, you can search a legal database, such as Lexis or Westlaw. Keep in mind that companies can have frivolous cases filed against them, but if there are hundreds of cases, you’ll want to look for a job elsewhere.

Ask the right questions. As you interview, pose questions that give you insight into the company’s vision for diversity and its connection to overall business objectives. It is acceptable to ask, for example, what is the number or percentage of minorities that hold positions of authority. Make sure you understand how diversity will impact your role, and how your position will impact the success of the diversity initiative.

Look around. When you’re given a tour of the workplace, make note of whether there appears to be diversity among the employees. Show up a few minutes early for the interview so you have time to casually observe the culture and get a glimpse of current staff.

Observe the team you’ll be working with. Teams that include workers from different backgrounds and experiences can come up with more creative ideas and methods of solving problems. The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives, according to research by Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua.

A multicultural workforce can give an organization a competitive edge, and being more competitive ultimately means being more profitable. Research from McKinsey underscores that diversity is good for a business’s bottom line. Ethnically diverse companies, in fact, were shown to be 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above the national industry median. Because that’s the kind of company you want to work for, it’s well worth the effort to find out as much as you can about a new employer’s commitment to diversity and inclusion before you make your next career move.