Pivoting as a boomer can be hard enough, especially when you have had negative experiences because of who you are. African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Women, LGBT individuals, and those with disabilities have all faced ceilings of one kind or another in their pursuit of a fulfilling career. Some have experienced stagnant upward mobility or have found their projects pushed back because of underlying discrimination.
Over time the norm has changed though, reflecting politics; a slow and steady progression from blindness at best and discrimination at worst toward an openness, and now specific efforts being made for inclusion and appreciation. Stats show that over a third (37%) of companies’ newly hired employees are currently of African American, Latino, or Asian descent (DiversityInc’s 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity), while nearly half (47%) of all employees are women (B.O.L.S., 2012). This closely reflects the national picture of the U.S. labor force in general (B.O.L.S., 2012).
It takes more than a diverse workforce, though, to make a diversity-friendly and inclusive company. Here are six key elements to look for when searching for companies that will not only welcome you but lift you up and appreciate your potential.
1 – Specialty job boards or specific job board search features
It used to be that when you searched for a job, you would use your connections, search through local newspapers’ classifieds, and make some good old-fashioned phone calls to companies you might like to work for. Now, the job search looks slightly different. Although using good connections is always extremely beneficial, not all of us are lucky enough to have such resources. If you are like the majority, you will go to an online job search database, which enables you to narrow down what you are looking for by various criteria like salary, job field, and location.
When it comes to diversity though, none of the major job boards have a special search feature that is just for diversity. Only a few enable you to search by keyword, which is the search option that will best suit your needs; you can simply type in words like “diversity” or “inclusive” and the search will list companies that have job descriptions with those words in them. In other words, this search will typically bring up any job description that has the traditional diversity and inclusion line – a line that most companies have adopted, leaving you with more jobs to sort through than most of us have time for.
So how can you narrow down your options? The safest way is to use specialty job boards designed just for diverse candidates. Most of these job boards develop connections with companies who are making diversity a priority and therefore have a special interest in seeking diverse candidates.
You can find these by Googling “diversity jobs” or “jobs for Hispanics” or “jobs for women.” Be as specific as possible and be careful not to get lost on illegitimate job boards. You will want to use one of the top four or five options listed by Google (or any general internet search engine), and once you go to a job board you can typically find information on any awards they have won, any press appearances, and so on. This will help you understand how legit the job board is.
2 – Extended diversity line in the job description
Once you have found specific jobs you are looking for, you will typically see the classic diversity and inclusion line in the job descriptions. The standard line looks something like this:
“___COMPANY NAME____ is an Affirmative Action Equal Employment Opportunity employer considering candidates for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.”
If a company elaborates more upon this standard line, you can be assured that they are invested more heavily in diversity.
3 – Awards or “Top” lists
Instead of starting your search looking for a specific job, you can try to search for specific companies you know offer the dynamic you are looking for. To find out if a company is “all that,” find top employers by going to award lists. For example, Forbes, Inc., Fortune, and many other top business-related organizations award employers each year for diversity and inclusion. Find these lists, and use these companies as starting points to investigate open positions.
4 – Positive corporate profile in the media and on the news
While researching companies that are more inclusive, you may also want to search social media. Starting with a general “diversity” term search on Twitter, for example, may bring up the latest news relating to any companies who have made headlines both positively or for less flattering reasons.
You can similarly search for specific companies, or combine different keywords with different social media platform searches to get a general impression of current news pertaining to Diversity and a prospective employer. Some companies even have special HR twitter or Facebook accounts which host pictures, recent company events, and articles often offering a glimpse into the company culture.
5 – Corporate Ownership and/or Leadership Demographics
While researching specific companies, find out whether people of diverse backgrounds are in leadership or management positions, or if the company is owned by someone who is “diverse.”
This can give you a sound idea of your chances of upward mobility, for example. Diversity in management is sadly rare, however; in fact, we, unfortunately, see a stark lack of diversity in corporate boardrooms. Looking specifically at Fortune 500 CEOs, only 21—a mere 4.2 percent—are people of color. Four are black (0.8 percent); nine are Asian (1.8 percent), and six are Latino (1.2 percent). What’s more, only 4 are female people of color, representing just 0.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. And while women make up nearly half of the labor force today, only 18 Fortune 500 CEOs (3.6 percent) are female. Diversity is not lacking, however, among our nation’s business owners. Strong diversity in business ownership has played a key role in advancing an economy that meets the needs of all consumers. According to the Census Bureau, people of color own 22.1 percent of all U.S. businesses. Moreover, women own more than a quarter of all businesses—28.8 percent.” (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2012/07/12/11938/the-state-of-diversity-in-todays-workforce/)
Keep this in mind when researching companies, and do not get discouraged if a company is making progress, is invested in diversity, but still has not met their goals for diverse leadership.
5 – An open workplace culture
Workplace culture is perhaps the hardest yet most important quality to understand when seeking future places for employment. The day to day atmosphere of a company is highly underrated, but critical when it comes to diversity acceptance and appreciation.
Researching within social media, company websites and descriptors, and finding opportunities to speak with current employees are all ways to delve into understanding this elusive picture. It is those companies with the company cultures that extend beyond old-fashioned cubicles and toward dynamic teams, employee appreciation, and out of the box thinking that most likely will reflect the diverse value sets you seek.
Most importantly when seeking welcoming companies, remember to appreciate your own talents and not do doubt your own competitiveness just because of who you are.
This post was written by Cherise Tolbert who works for LatPro.com, an award-winning diversity-focused job board which connects Hispanic and bilingual job seekers with employers throughout the Americas. Cherise specializes in social media and communications and has her Master’s from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.