When job searching, it’s important that you do your due diligence when researching potential employers and positions. No matter how impressive it looks on your resume, if it’s unable to provide the support and growth you need, it’s simply not worth it.
If you’re part of an underrepresented group, you should take extra steps to thoroughly vet companies and roles. Below are 6 things you should pay attention to when pounding the pavement for a new job.
Research the breakdown of minorities at the company - not just overall, but also in various departments (especially the one you’re applying to). For instance, if you’re an Asian woman in sales, you should definitely pay attention to the number of Asians, women, and Asian women who are employed throughout the company and within the sales department. You should also look into the numbers of other minorities at the company.
Then, you should do some benchmarking by researching the same numbers at several similar companies. This will give you a better idea of whether they’re ahead of the curve, behind it, or somewhere in the middle, in terms of diversity & inclusion efforts. Also, look at the data from a few years ago to get an idea of the trends. Have their numbers been going up, down, or stayed steady? This will give you a big clue as to how much priority and effort they’re giving to D&I initiatives. If they’ve been stagnating and their numbers are significantly worse compared to similar companies, make sure to bring that up in the interview. You can ask the interviewer why they think that’s happening and how the company views that issue. Maybe they realize there’s a problem, and they’re planning to make some big changes. In that case, I’d say the company’s definitely worth a second look.
Don’t forget to look at management numbers too. How many minorities of various types - especially from those groups you belong to - hold management positions at the company. According to one recent Harvard Business Review article, even though Asians tend to get hired in the highest numbers in tech, they tend to get promoted to management the least. Don’t be fooled by one positive metric. It’s important to look at the entire picture. When you find these kinds of discrepancies, it’s important to bring up these concerns during the interview and learn more about the companies’ stances and actions on issues like this.
2. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Leaders
These days, a lot of companies are putting their money where their mouths are by creating D&I departments and/or hiring leaders to focus on D&I issues. If a company has invested in these ways, it shows that they take these issues seriously and care about attracting and retaining underrepresented employees. Of course, a lot of these companies still have a long way to go and may be stumbling while they find their way, but at least they’ve taken a major step in the right direction. It also shows that they’re prioritizing D&I and have the resources to devote to tackling issues related to it.
Of course, not all companies are in positions to create a new department or create a new senior level role. But, there are other ways that these companies can show their commitment to D&I - such as supporting Employee Resource Groups.
3. Employee Resource Groups
Catalyst defines Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as “voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. Other benefits include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach.”
More and more companies are creating ERGs for women, people of color, those who identify as LGBTQA+, etc. And, they can help companies make significant strides towards increased diversity and inclusion, as seen in Project Include’s case study on Twilio’s ERGs.
I would highly suggest finding out if they have ERGs at the company. If they don’t, find out why. Ask how much support they’re willing to give to them and how easy it would be for you to start one.
As I previously mentioned in my blog “How to Navigate Silicon Valley as a Women or Minority with Mentors/Sponsors,” mentorship can make a huge difference in helping women and minorities thrive and succeed at a company. Make sure to find out if a company prioritizes mentorship opportunities for employees - especially for those from underrepresented groups.
5. Reviews from current and former employees
It’s always great to get lots of insider knowledge on a company before applying. As a minority, it’s important to seek out reviews from current and former employees who are part of underrepresented groups too. They’ll be able to give you the nitty gritty on the unique challenges you might face in a particular environment. They can give you honest assessments of the culture of the organization, including in terms of D&I.
Informational interviews are the best method to get a true picture of a company. Although, you can always reach out to ask questions over email or LinkedIn. I highly recommend checking reviews on sites like Glassdoor as well. All of these reviews will start filling in the picture of how comfortable and happy you’d feel at a particular company.
6. An Interviewer’s Behavior
Interviewers are supposed to represent their companies. Although you may naturally mesh with some more than others, you’ll probably find good insights about the culture from the way your interviewer behaves. For instance, if they’re a senior-level employee, have been there for a while, and seem to be throwing out one microaggression after another during your time together, that probably shows that the company doesn’t deal with cultural sensitivity very effectively. Those in senior positions and/or in human resources functions are expected to be standard-bearers for a company’s culture. Remember to pay close attention to how they reflect that. Absolutely make sure they’re not asking you any discriminatory/illegal questions, like if you’re pregnant or planning to have children in the near future.
Please share this post with your networks using hashtag #nextplaymentoring. You can email us at Charu@nextplay.ai if any of this resonated with you - and especially if you have a mentorship success story to share!