Job interview coming up? 12 signs the employer cares about equality, diversity & inclusion in the workplace

What are you looking for in your next job? Most jobseekers have a list of things they ideally want to achieve in a new job. From future development opportunities to mental health and wellbeing initiatives and the salary and benefits on offer, we all prioritise certain things when we job search. 
Increasingly, jobseekers are adding an equal, diverse and inclusive workplace to their list of considerations. But, as a jobseeker, how can you tell if an organisation really values diversity in the workplace? What clues can you look out for in the recruitment process and in a job interview to understand if the company’s equality, diversity & inclusion, or ED&I, public promise has resulted in genuine workplace action? 

Why equality, diversity & inclusion in the workplace is important to jobseekers

According to findings in our recent Hays Barometer Report, 54 per cent of professionals say an organisation’s ED&I policies will be either vital or important considerations when they next look for a job. 
It’s plain to see why – there are, after all, many advantages of diversity in the workplace for employees. By working for an employer who values ED&I, you’re more likely to be part of an innovative, profitable, productive and future-proofed organisation, feel included at work, have equal advancement opportunities, be promoted based on merit alone, be paid equally and be more satisfied at work. 

How to tell if an organisation values equality, diversity & inclusion

As a jobseeker, how can you tell if a company truly values diversity? Sure, the organisation may have made a public commitment to ED&I and promoted it heavily in their recruitment marketing materials, but you need to cut through to identify what’s truly important to the organisation. 
Here’s 12 clues to look out for in the recruitment process that will tell you if an organisation is committed to equality, diversity & inclusion.

Pre-interview clues:

1.    The job description: What sort of language is used in the job description, advertisement and the promotional documents you have received so far? An organisation that doesn’t use an unbiased tone, such as gender-neutral language, may not have taken steps to address unconscious bias in hiring managers. For example, “You require five years of experience” can put off older, more experienced candidates, while “an energetic team” can prevent people with a disability from applying.  
2.    The organisation’s website and careers pages:  A visible commitment to ED&I on the website suggests the organisation has relevant policies in place. You may come across specific data around ED&I in the workplace, for example, or awards or recognition for progress in this area. As above, the language that is used on the website can also indicate the organisation’s position and commitment. Look beyond the language though to the imagery used, too – does it reflect a diverse workforce? 
3.    Third-party employee reviews: Employees can publish reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, which allow you to learn more about the culture of the organisation through the perspective of current and former employees. However, if you do research a potential employer on such sites, bear in mind that no review is ever perfect and the scores can often be polarised as either very positive or very negative.
4.    Social media channels:  An organisation’s social media channels can give you an idea of the inclusivity that exists within the organisation. For example, do you see evidence of teambuilding activities or charitable events? Do managers engage with or share employees’ content? Is there evidence that key diversity events are supported? Are promotions celebrated and is there evidence of diverse promotions? Do employees seem proud of what they do and who they work with? Is there a #hashtag that demonstrates the organisation’s culture? For example, if you search #WeareHays on Instagram, you’ll see what we do – does the organisation you are considering proudly promote an equivalent?
5.    The benefits package: Review the benefits on offer for clues that ED&I is valued, such as the provision of flexible working conditions and a shared parental leave policy. Does it appear that specific employee benefits are suited to everyone or do they appear to be more aligned to certain individuals? 
6.    The board of directors: If you find that the organisation is predominantly run by men or women or people of a certain ethnicity, this isn’t necessarily a red flag that ED&I doesn’t exist within the organisation, but it could give you something to think about, particularly if there isn’t also a public commitment to improve diversity at the executive level. 

Interview clues: 

7.    A diverse interview panel: Who are you introduced to when you walk into the interview room or in a subsequent visit to the office? Are you greeted by a diverse group of people? In your short time being interviewed, if your perception of the panel and initial workplace optics is that diversity exists here, then it could be a fair reflection of the organisation as a whole.
8.    Inclusive communication from the interviewers: In the interview, keep an eye on the dynamic between the panel members and others. For example, have you heard any of the panellists talking to staff outside the interview room, such as receptionists or administrators? The respect that members of the interview panel give to others could be indicative of how they treat one another on a day-to-day basis.
9.    A conversational interview: If the organisation values inclusion, the interview should feel like a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. You should be asked questions that enquire about and capture the spirit of what you want from your career and next employer to realise your potential. You should also feel that your answers are really being listened and responded to. 
10.    Your questions are answered with examples: When you reach the stage of the interview where you are invited to ask questions, you may want to consider asking questions such as:
  • What are some of the key ED&I actions your organisation has taken in recent months? 
  • Have the last few months changed any of your organisation’s ED&I priorities going forward? If so, how?
  • How is your organisation committed to delivering on its purpose? 
  • What do you do to create an inclusive team environment?
  • Are there any specific internal ED&I groups, resources or initiatives you are particularly proud of?
  • How can employees get involved in ED&I initiatives in your workplace?
  • Crucially, if the organisation has made a meaningful commitment to ED&I, then each interviewer should be able to share explicit examples of progress made.

Post-interview clues:

11.    Use of a structured interview process: Follow up with your recruiter and ask if the organisation used a structured interview process that asked every candidate the same questions. This approach allows every candidate to demonstrate their skills and aptitudes equally and suggests that the organisation takes an inclusive interview process seriously. 
12.    Post-interview follow-up: After the interview, did the recruiter or hiring manager follow up with you in a timely fashion? Did you receive feedback? Perhaps you even received an invitation to tour the office, meet potential colleagues or attend a team event. Such actions can give you a deeper insight into the organisation’s culture and suggest it values ED&I. 
To sum up, the above clues will help you build a real sense of the employer’s genuine commitment to ED&I. However, don’t rule out an employer just because they don’t tick every single box.  Creating an equal, diverse and inclusive workforce and workplace is a continuous process and there are always further actions that can be taken. 
So, provided you see evidence of genuine progress, not just grand plans, you should find that you’ll be welcomed and all the unique differences you will bring into the organisation will be embraced.

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

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