Photo By halfpoint
Most social impact organizations today express a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
The National Council of Nonprofits encourages organizations to not only articulate their values, but to be guided by them and to integrate them into their daily operations. Unfortunately, not all do, and it would be incredibly disappointing to accept a job after a long search process only to discover the organization’s walk doesn’t match its talk.
As you move through your job search and look for evidence of an organization’s DEI values in action, here are four areas to pay close attention to.
How the organization defines DEI values in the job description
An organization driven by its values will incorporate those values into their job descriptions. Make note of any stated values so that you can ask about them during your interview, and also confirm that the organization is using inclusive language.
Keep an eye out for what type of language an organization uses in a job description. Descriptors like “competitive” and “commensurate with experience” may unintentionally perpetuate inequity by yielding different results for different candidates.
How the organization communicates with you
When you receive an email to schedule an interview, how does the recruiter or hiring manager address you? Do they make any assumptions, such as writing “Mrs. Smith” when they don’t know for sure that you’re married or identify as a female? And if the spelling of your name includes a special symbol or character, does the recruitor include it, or leave it out? These can be clues about unconscious bias or implicit values.
Take a look at the sender’s email signature. Do they include their personal pronouns (she/her, he/his, they/their, she/they, etc.)? This is a small way inclusive organizations normalize gender identity.
Regarding the interview or any sample work assignments, observe whether the organization offers accommodations upfront. Examples may include sign language interpretation or alternative formats for interview materials, such as Braille or audio recordings. If not, the organization may unconsciously assume all applicants are equally abled, and may unintentionally be “othering” a candidate who has to initiate a conversation about necessary accommodations.
How an organization expresses DEI values during an interview
At the start of your interview, does the interviewer ask you to pronounce your name or make an assumption and mispronounce it, requiring you to interject and correct them?
Whether you’re interviewing online or in person, observe who’s at the table. Does everyone appear to be of the same sex or race? Be cautious about making assumptions, but consider further research about the organization and its employees if diversity seems to be lacking.
It’s common practice to use a standard set of interview questions to avoid bias. If an interviewer goes off script, make sure the question is related to the job. Feel free to ask how the question relates to the role if it’s not obvious.
Even simple get-to-know-you questions can flag bias, such as, “Where are you from?” or “Do you have kids?” An organization committed to DEI values will invest in employee training to address potential biases and increase awareness of sensitivities.
Which values are incorporated into a job offer
As mentioned above, look for gender-neutral pronouns or generic terms like “the candidate” or “the employee” in the contract or offer letter describing the responsibilities and expectations of the position.
If the salary was previously listed as “competitive” or “commensurate with experience,” does the organization provide an explanation for the offer amount, or reference an internal pay scale? If it’s not offered upfront, you can request an explanation or pay scale, as it can help determine whether or not the offer is fair. If an organization practices salary transparency, they’ll willingly disclose that information.
Read through the benefits associated with the role and confirm that health care, paid leave (for a variety of reasons), and other supports are available. If there’s a benefit missing that you require, such as flexible working hours to care for a loved one, make the request when negotiating your offer.
Most organizations are works in progress
Remember that just like us, no organization is perfect, but many are trying. Pay close attention throughout your job search so that when you’re hired, you can be confident you’re joining a team that puts its values into action.
Tiffany Woodall is the founder and job search strategist at Creating Better Mondays, where she helps passionate, purpose-driven people find jobs that feel fulfilling. Tiffany holds a B.A. in journalism from Penn State University and resides in Chapel Hill, NC.