Published: Feb 04, 2021
Everyone’s heard the phrase “diversity and inclusion” (“D&I” for short), but what does it really mean? Why is it so important? And how do you find companies that prioritize it?
In honor of Black History Month, below are the answers to these common questions about diversity and inclusion, helping you make better and more informed career decisions.
What is a diverse and inclusive workplace?
“Diversity” refers to a fair representation of people from all backgrounds, of all races, cultures, ages, sexualities, and religions. “Inclusion” refers to a supportive and collaborative environment where diverse thoughts can prosper and be treated equally. And so, a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is made up of different types of employees at all levels with equal opportunity and say within the organization. A diverse and inclusive workplace fosters an environment that welcomes all types of people and has no barriers of discrimination or bias.
Why should you apply to and work at organizations that support D&I?
There are several benefits to working at organizations that prioritizes D&I, both for the organizations themselves and for their employees. Studies have found that a focus on D&I leads to long-term business success. Companies with diverse workforces, especially within their leadership, have higher profit margins than those that are more homogeneous. Of course, financially successful organizations make for great places to grow professionally. Additionally, organizations founded on the inclusion of all employees typically cultivate cultures of friendliness and teamwork. And friendly, team-oriented cultures usually lead to an increase in employee engagement and fulfillment.
How do you find organizations that focus on D&I?
Here are four tips for searching for organizations that promote D&I.
1. Look for workplace awards.
Several professional associations and independent publications, including Vault, publish rankings and lists of the best companies for D&I. This helps separate companies using D&I for PR benefits from those that are truly committed to incorporating it into their structures. Research those organizations that regularly top these lists and rankings to see which best fits your needs and interests.
2. Dig into an organization’s diversity initiatives.
Make sure companies you're interested in stick to their D&I mission statements within their own practices. Do they invest in mentoring and training? What do their executive teams look like? Do they support diverse professional organizations? If organizations have internal programs to develop different talents and encourage unique ideas, they’re likely committed to diverse opinions and experiences, and want to integrate diversity and inclusion.
3. Take a look at the way an organization hires and recruits.
Does an organization’s recruiters visit (physically or virtually) a variety of school types or just expensive, “elite” schools? Where do recruiters and hiring managers network? Recruiters and hiring managers who are devoted to bringing in the best candidates will likely spread their resources wide to capture all different types of candidates.
4. Research what the leadership’s philanthropic efforts look like.
The way an organization’s executives personally invest their money and time can speak volumes for the culture they prioritize and have built into their own companies. For example, Vista Equity Partners is known for its commitment to workplace diversity, and its Founder, Chairman, and CEO Robert F. Smith advocates for underserved communities as the founding director and president of Fund II Foundation. Similarly, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, a company that’s published plans to become more inclusive, is the chairman emeritus of the Moore Foundation, which supports several initiatives, including education in low-income areas. Do your own research to see how the CEO, president, founders, and other leaders donate their resources to understand their social priorities within their companies.
Sarah Candin is a content contributor living in New York City. She researches and covers career-based articles, focusing on recruiting and human resources.
If your company isn’t thinking about how to increase its diversity and inclusion right now, it might be asking for trouble down the road. Less engaged employees, lower productivity, losing talent to competitors, and even litigation are all serious risks.
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Each year, Vault surveys thousands of banking and accounting professionals, asking them to rate their firms in several workplace categories. These categories include compensation, benefits, hours, work/life balance, training, relationships with managers, promotion policies, and business outlook.