04/04/18 | Menu-Homepage, Workplace

How to Spot a Diversity-Friendly Workplace

If you’re like me, when you’re job hunting, you’re looking for more than just a paycheck. You’re looking for a place where you can do your life’s best work. You want to join a workplace where you know you’ll be valued for your unique contributions and where your work is beneficial to the world. For instance, 75% of millennials say that they would take a pay cut to work for a socially ethical company.

Choosing a new job is a crucial decision, often fraught with risks. Picking the wrong company means your career can be off track months or even years, and you risk being miserable daily. It’s important to fully vet your next workplace before making the big leap. Getting hired is a two-way street; you should be interviewing your boss as much as they’re grilling you!

It can be tough to identify the signs that a workplace truly values diversity and inclusion, so how do you distinguish those who are walking the walk, from those who just talk the talk? A ping-pong table and a retro video game machine do not speak to a great culture; companies must take action to create great workplaces that employees love.

Here are some tips on how to identify whether a workplace is truly inclusive:

Get an honest review

One great way to get a frank view of how the company culture is performing is to reach out directly to current or past employees to get their honest viewpoint about the workplace. Glassdoor and LinkedIn make this very easy, but you can also navigate your local professional network for a more personal, tailored take on things. Offer a coffee or a lunch in exchange for some specific information.

Get specific about compensation and benefits

Benefits are an important part of an overall compensation package, and say a lot about how much a company values inclusion. Asking the HR representative detailed questions will reveal a lot about how much executive leadership is acting on creating a workplace where all employees thrive.

  • Does the company offer equal pay for equal work? In asking this question, it’s important to distinguish whether they have conducted an internal audit, or worked with a neutral third-party to certify that they have pay equity. Companies often tout equal pay, without the ability to back it up with proof.
  • Ask about health insurance coverage for important preventative medication, such as pREP, or family planning assistance.
  • Great companies offer generous parental leave policies, and afford flexibility around which parent is the primary caregiver. They also provide on-site nursing facilities and other perks for new mothers.
  • How flexible is the company around hours and remote-work, as needed? Many families need to work around specific hours for childcare commitments, and top workplaces understand how to make accommodations for personal lives.
  • If the company has been around for a while, ask about when they first implemented domestic partner benefits.

What conferences do they attend?

Companies usually attend conferences specific to their industries. However, in many industries, there are conferences and events that are specifically tailored to foster inclusion. Some examples are Grace Hopper, Lesbians who Tech, Afrotech, and many others. Ask if the company you’re interviewing with has a booth, sponsorship or official presence at these events.

Here’s a photo of the SpareFoot team attending the Texas Conference for Women:

The SpareFoot team attending the Texas Conference for Women.

Ask about community involvement

Contributions back to the community say a lot about the health of a workplace. Diversity-friendly companies understand that to create inclusive workplaces, they need to be an active and engaged participant in the local community.

Here are some examples of the types of engagement you should look for:

  • Recruiting events designed to bolster inclusion, for instance, specifically targeting minorities, or veterans.
  • Educational support to underprivileged local communities, such as coding camps, or other career development activities.
  • Participation in local Pride events and LGBTQIA groups.
  • Does the company support or partner with specific non-profits, and if so, which ones?

WP Engine at Austin Pride.

Look for the flair

Happy employees love to rock their company’s logo, and will eagerly wear company t-shirts, put stickers on their laptops, and hang photos from company events at their desk. As you’re touring around the office, check to see what flair employees are willingly flaunting, and what slogans those “internal campaigns” say about the business. LGBTQIA-friendly workplaces might, for instance, have a rainbow version of the company logo. Visible reminders of diversity and inclusion around the office send a strong message that everyone is welcome.

The rainbow stickers on the employee laptops at Duo, a Michigan-based company.


Crystal Hansen

Crystal Hansen

Crystal Hansen is founder and CEO of SameWorks, based in Austin, TX. SameWorks helps companies get certified for pay equity, using simple and affordable software tools and analytics, which improve recruiting, retention and performance.

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