From a career counseling perspective, how can our students or clients know when an organization values diversity, equity, and inclusion? Why is it important to know a company’s policies of diversity, equity, and inclusion? How do companies demonstrate they have an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment? All of these questions are important, and it is more than likely you will encounter these questions during your time working with students and clients.
In responding to these questions, it is valuable to note first, that companies are recognizing the importance of attracting a diverse work force, they are realizing that the more diverse and representative a company’s work force is to its consumer base, the more likely it will flourish and grow. This is because companies are discovering that celebrating diversity and diversification appeals to a wider range of varied consumers, and consumers like to see themselves or their constituents represented in a company’s product and advertising. Companies are also taking stock into how much revenue specialty or minority populations bring in and produce in annual profits; for example, the estimated spending power of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States will be almost $1 trillion by 2020 (Brundage, 2018).
So, if diversity, inclusion, and equity are important to a student or applicant and they want to work for an organization that values and supports these initiatives, they must first do their research. Check to see if the company is registered through the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index (Human Rights Campaign, 2019) in LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the workplace. See if they are listed in the Forbes 500 top places to work for diversity and inclusion, which benchmarks an organization’s policies against anti-discrimination laws, inclusive hiring practices, equal and available opportunities for advancement, and social advocacy initiatives (Fidas, et al, 2014). Check out the company’s website to see if they have specialty affinity groups that include women and people of color. Explore their leadership in middle, upper management, and executive positions to see if they include women and people of color. See what their customers and employees are saying about their workplace environment and hiring practices.
It is important to know this information as a potential employee to determine if the company is a right fit for the applicant. Will the company be supportive? Does the company value employees as individuals and want them to bring their whole self to work? Statistics show that employees who feel marginalized, stymied, or compartmentalized in their lives at work have a reduced feeling of workplace satisfaction. They experience higher levels of anxiety and stress because they have to keep a part of their lives secret from their coworkers and managers from fear of retaliation or discrimination. This fear, in turn, leads to decreased productivity, higher rates of absenteeism, and higher turnover rates (Human Rights Campaign, 2019).
Companies can combat this by adopting inclusive language and inclusive practices in their hiring procedures, their intake forms, and their common environments. For example, in a waiting area, having a diverse selection of magazines for customers, applicants, and employees to enjoy signals that this is a diverse and welcoming place. Displaying diverse and inclusive marketing materials on billboards, hallway signs, and pamphlets communicates to customers and employees that an organizations values diversity, inclusivity, and equity.
By adopting language that recognizes the dignity and uniqueness of each individual, while also focusing on the professionalism of the task at hand, indicates to everyone that they are valued and interested in supportive productivity of an employees work environment. Simply stating “I want to be respectful of you while we work together. How can we best accomplish that?” or “Is there something about yourself you would like to share with me that you feel is important for me to know, for us to work together effectively?” (Hawkins, 2016).
In adopting inclusive language, researching a company’s polices, and understanding how diversity, equity, and inclusivity enhance an organization’s working environment, applicants are better equipped to explore and discover the organization that will best fit their own professional and personal identities.
Note: A student-directed version of this blog is available to NACE college/university members for their websites.
Brundage, A. (2018). Maintaining Authenticity During the Job Search Process. PNC Bank. Retrieved through phone interview: May 14, 2018.
Fidas, D., Cooper, L., Raspanti, J. (2014). The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion: Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters to Employers. The Human Rights Campaign.
Hawkins, L. (2016). Adopting LGBTQA+ Inclusive Language in Patient Experiences. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Retrieved in one-to-one interview. March 28, 2015.
Human Rights Campaign. (2019). Corporate Equality Index 2019: Rating Places on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality. The Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved from: https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index?sf100994657=1