How to tell if an inclusive culture is the real deal

By Jewell Parkinson, Chief People Officer at iCIMS 

Companies across the world are at a critical moment for diversity and inclusion (D&I). The impact of social justice movements and economic crisis has placed a new focus on creating inclusive workplaces. It’s a candidate’s market, and toxic or even just subpar conditions are no longer acceptable. 

Employers must learn to cultivate and convey authentic, inclusive workplace cultures that truly resonate with jobseekers. Many companies tout their commitment to D&I, but how do jobseekers tell the difference between true commitment and shallow sales patter? And how can employers communicate they’re not just talking the talk, but truly walking the walk when it comes to D&I and positive culture? 

I offer the following advice to help those on the job hunt, as well as employers looking to find top talent. 

To establish a meaningful workplace culture 

Jobseekers: ask yourself what you really need from an employer 

Be thoughtful about how you word  questions about company culture. Interviewers will often share fun aspects of company culture like happy hours, ping pong tables, or other social benefits. These perks are nice to have, but give limited insight into a company’s culture.  

It is crucial to have a clear view of what you will be walking into, should you get the job. The hiring process is a good indication of just that—according to iCIMS data, 58% of recent college graduates look for diversity during the interview process. To help get a read on a prospective employer, consider asking about their approach to mentorship and career growth. Does the company encourage and support employee resource groups? How do they support work-life balance?  

Don’t just take the recruiter or interviewer’s word for it. Ask for specific examples or to speak to someone in the same or similar role or level so you can pick their brain about day-to-day life at the company and how they’re valued amongst their team members and the overall organisation. 

Employers: tap into employee stories, feedback and analytics 

Most companies believe they’re fostering a positive and inclusive company culture, but if leadership teams aren’t asking for direct and regular employee feedback, they may be missing the mark. Only through consistent tracking and open dialogue with employees and candidates alike can companies get an accurate pulse on how they’re performing. 

New research from iCIMS and Talent Board revealed 52% of organisations have not used diversity-related data or analytics beyond the minimum legal requirement. This is a lost opportunity to gain insight. Employers should actively source and embrace feedback and requests relating to D&I. This shows that employees and candidates care about culture and how their contributions can impact the company. Specifically, understanding input from the hiring process can help enable a more informed and data-driven approach to building a more diverse workforce.  

To spot if D&I is more than a buzzword 

Jobseekers: look for authentic D&I imperatives 

Many employers are quick to say they prioritise D&I. To parse out the performative players from the truly committed, do your due diligence. Review their career site to see if they are transparent about culture and the diversity within their company. What does their leadership team look like? Do they showcase images and videos of real employees speaking to company culture, D&I, development, and mobility opportunities? Are any employee resource groups or programmes highlighted?  

IBM and Uber are good examples of brands that showcase a commitment to building an inclusive culture. These brands leverage user-generated video content to connect and engage with jobseekers and current employees. It’s an easy way to build more meaningful relationships with talent and showcase how the company supports diverse communities by tapping into the best source of this information: real employees. 

Employers: establish and share authentic D&I imperatives 

Companies that are committed to action know D&I is a journey. Many companies are not where they’d like to be or have lagging numbers, especially at the leadership level. Understanding and being transparent about where you are at will go a long way with today’s job seekers. 

Where possible, share your organisation’s diversity goals, the progress it has made, and the steps it is taking to learn, improve and further its journey. Don’t be afraid to proactively mention this information to show the company doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations.  

Whether it’s monthly D&I discussion groups, partnering with networking communities for underrepresented groups, D&I training, or more—these types of programmes showcase real commitment.  

We are in a hyper-competitive job market with tremendous demand for talent; and at the same time, we’re seeing a record number of resignations. 

Job seekers hold the power. They can and should hold employers responsible for being more inclusive. Employers that let this moment pass them by will be hard-pressed to thrive as we move forward. This is an opportunity to build a more equitable, inclusive, and high-performing workforce for today and the future. 

Author: Editorial Team

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