Most social-impact organizations today express a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
The National Council of Nonprofits encourages organizations to not only articulate their values, but to be guided by them and to integrate them into their daily operations. Unfortunately, not all do, and it would be incredibly disappointing to accept a job after a long search process only to discover the organization's walk doesn't match its talk.
As you move through your job search and look for evidence of an organization's commitment to workforce diversity, here are four areas to pay close attention to.
How the organization defines DEI in the job listing
An organization driven by its values will incorporate those values into their job listings. Keep an eye out for inclusive language, specific values the organization promotes, whether the EEO statement reflects a meaningful commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can also address these topics during an interview with the hiring manager.
Keep an eye out for what type of language the organization uses in a job description. Descriptors like “competitive,” “salary commensurate with experience,” and “seasoned professional” may unintentionally perpetuate inequity by yielding different results for different candidates.
How the organization communicates with you
When you receive an email to schedule an interview, keep an eye out for clues about unconscious bias or implicit values:
- How does the recruiter or hiring manager address you? Do they make any assumptions, such as writing “Mrs. Smith” when they don’t know if you’re married or identify as a woman?
- If the spelling of your name includes a special symbol or character, does the recruiter include it or leave it out?
- Take a look at the sender’s email signature. Do they include their personal pronouns (she/her, he/his, they/them, she/they, etc.)? This is a small way that organizations signal they are inclusive about gender identity at work.
Regarding the interview or any sample work assignments, observe whether the organization offers accommodations upfront. Examples may include sign language interpretation or alternative formats for interview materials, such as Braille or audio recordings. If not, the organization may unconsciously assume all applicants are equally abled, and may unintentionally be “othering” a candidate who has to initiate a conversation about necessary accommodations.
How an organization expresses DEI values during an interview
When interviewing for a role, pay attention to how the interviewer interacts with you, and see if you can make any observations about the hiring organization's values:
- Does the interviewer repeatedly mispronounce your name, even after you've corrected them? Do they ask to call you by a nickname rather than make an effort to correctly pronounce your name?
- Whether you’re interviewing online or in person, observe who’s at the table. Does everyone appear to be of the same sex or race? Be cautious about making assumptions, but consider further research about the organization and its employees if diversity seems to be lacking.
- Does the interviewer ask personal questions that make you uncomfortable or signal bias, such as what neighborhood you live in or whether you have kids? An organization committed to DEI values will invest in employee diversity training and resources to address potential biases and increase awareness of sensitivities.
It’s common practice to use a standard set of interview questions to avoid bias. If an interviewer goes off script, make sure the question is related to the job. Feel free to ask how the question relates to the role if it’s not obvious.
What values are incorporated into a job offer
As mentioned above, look for gender-neutral pronouns or generic terms like “the candidate” or “the employee” in the contract or offer letter describing the responsibilities and expectations of the position.
If the salary was previously listed as “competitive” or “commensurate with experience,” does the organization provide an explanation for the offer amount, or reference an internal pay scale? If it's not offered upfront, you can request an explanation or pay scale, as it can help determine whether or not the offer is fair. If an organization practices salary transparency, they’ll willingly disclose that information.
Pro Tip: Research an acceptable salary range using tools like Idealist Salaries, which can help you determine whether an organization values your skills and experience or is unfairly lowballing you.
Read through the benefits associated with the role and confirm that health care, paid leave (for a variety of reasons), and other supports are available. If there’s a benefit missing that you require, such as flexible working hours to care for a loved one or gender-affirming medical support, make the request when negotiating your offer.
Most organizations are works in progress
Remember that just like us, no organization is perfect, but many are trying to open their ears and improve their workforce diversity. Pay close attention throughout your job search and don’t be afraid to ask questions — that way, when you’re hired, you can be confident you’re joining a team that puts its values into action.
Find your dream role by keeping in mind these 11 Green Flags to Look for in Your Next Job Interview.
By Tiffany Woodall