Diversity, equity, and inclusion: evaluating your potential employer

When looking for a new job or evaluating your current one, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are an important consideration for many. This guide will help you figure out what to look for.

In a survey conducted in May of 2021, around two-thirds of minority workers have reported experiencing bias in the workplace. As a matter of fact, while the same survey found that about half of tech workers have noticed an increase in focus and priority toward diversity and inclusion, the other half said that they thought tech companies could still do more.

Diversity and inclusion practices can make or break whether or not you will be happy in your role. We’ve devised this guide to help you assess a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion practices before committing to a new role. In this guide we will cover:

  1. Interpreting Diversity Reports
  2. Red Flags
  3. Green Flags
  4. Questions to ask in Your Interviews
  5. Internal Affinity Groups
  6. External Affinity Groups

In the top 75 Silicon Valley tech firms, men make up 70% of employees, while women make up just 30%, according to a report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That same report indicates that, compared to other private sector industries, the high-tech sector employs more White people, Asian Americans, and men, and fewer African Americans, Hispanics, and women.

In executive roles, representation is even worse. White people make up 83% of leadership roles in tech companies, while Asian Americans hold 11% of roles and African Americans hold just 2%.

These statistics come despite growing research that diversity in the corporate world is a positive: a 2018 Boston Consulting Group report found that companies with above-average diversity scores generate 19% more innovation revenue compared to companies with below-average diversity scores.

While recent movements in the past few years have undoubtedly contributed to industry momentum and efforts, the issues of diversity and inclusion have always been prevalent in the tech industry.

Interpreting Diversity Reports

Over the past few years, a rising number of companies have started releasing diversity reports. These reports offer insights into the identity demographics of a company’s workforce.

EEO-1 Reports

The most standardized way of reporting on diversity is through an EEO-1 form. Supervised by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private companies with over 100 employees must submit yearly demographic workforce data, including data by race/ethnicity, sex and job categories.

These reports will usually be formatted in an easy-to-read table. They can usually be found on a company’s diversity page on their website or you can search for them in a search engine by entering “eeo-1 company name.”

Diversity Reports

Many companies may choose to report additional data beyond what is required of them (if you find that a company doesn’t offer more information on their diversity and inclusion practices, that could be a major red flag).

This info is most likely available on a company’s website. Be cautious when viewing this information. Remember, companies are only going to highlight their positives and likely will try and keep their shortfalls private.

Apple as an example

A company with a comprehensive diversity and inclusion website is Apple. They offer easy to comprehend figures on demographics for both general employees and leadership. They address their shortcomings and the approaches they have to fix them. They also show their progress over time.

While many companies can pledge to make a change, seeing a change take place is a much better indicator of real company values. For example, Apple shows how its global female representation has changed. From 2014 to 2021, female representation grew from 31% to 42%. You can also easily see percentage changes in employee make-ups categorized by race.

Red Flags

DEI efforts are mostly bottom up

Initiatives that are priorities of companies will typically start at the top as leadership has the power and resources to create meaningful changes. In terms of DEI, a top down approach might take the form of creating an entire team focused solely on DEI.

However, if efforts to improve DEI aren’t coming from the leadership at the company, then DEI goals might not be priorities of the company. A lack of DEI efforts from the top might indicate that the company hasn't invested enough resources into making these initiatives an integral part of the organization. For example, if a large company's only investment into DEI is employee resource groups, or ERGs, then this could be a sign that they expect employees to be heading efforts.

Lack of diversity in leadership and executive positions

It's increasingly common to see concrete efforts to improve diversity in hiring, but it's less common to see these changes implemented amongst leadership positions.

Efforts to increase DEI often don't address the most significant challenges to advancement. For people of color, especially those of underrepresented backgrounds, working in an environment that lacks diversity can negatively impact their sense of belonging and desire to stay with the organization.

Values and culture fail to focus on diversity

If DEI initiatives are not integrated into the company’s values and culture, then the company probably has a lot of work to do. It’s possible that it’s just starting out with implementing these efforts, but if it's a later stage company, it probably hasn’t devoted enough energy toward truly integrating DEI initiatives into the culture.

Parental leave policy is inadequate

A parental leave policy that is too short or unpaid is not inclusive of new parents. This can especially negatively impact women, as women are often pressured to focus on family rather than work and make up more than 60% of primary caregivers.

Moreover, a policy that doesn't use inclusive language may leave out LGBTQ employees. For example, terms like maternity and paternity leave may leave out non-binary policies. Birthing and non-birthing parental leave policies are one example of more inclusive language that you might see.

On the other hand, a parental leave policy that only incorporates leave for birth parents fails to include parents expanding their families through adoption or surrogacy.

Little flexibility to work remotely

While many companies are returning to in-person first and hybrid models, the option to work 100% remotely can be important in fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment. Remote work can allow people from anywhere in the world to take on a new role.

People who can't afford to relocate to expensive cities like San Francisco or New York can access jobs they otherwise would not be able to with the option to work remotely. This lack of flexibility can also disadvantage people with disabilities or health concerns.

Similar to a subpar parental leave policy, a lack of work flexibility for jobs that can be done remotely can further disadvantage women who make up the majority of primary caregivers.

Little to no employee resource groups

Employee resource groups are places where employees can foster important conversations and relationships with people of similar backgrounds. Creating them is a very common step amongst companies (especially larger ones) that want to improve their DEI efforts, and if a company hasn’t made this step, it might not care that much.

Green Flags

Transparent diversity reports

Transparent diversity reports show that the company isn’t trying to hide anything. This likely means that it has put effort into DEI initiatives, or at the very least is honest about where it’s at.

Active internal affinity groups

Having these groups for employees of similar backgrounds and life experiences shows some commitment on the part of the company and its employees. If a company you’re considering has an internal affinity group that appeals to you, then you can feel more assured that you’ll find a meaningful community there.

Diverse leadership

Diverse leadership shows a commitment to putting people from underrepresented groups into positions of power. This tends to be an area where a lot of companies fall short, so if a company you’re considering does this well, this is a huge green flag.

Inclusive recruiting channels and programs

Integrating DEI efforts into a company’s recruiting efforts is fundamental to finding and hiring diverse employees.

Comprehensive DEI training

DEI training is how a company is able to ensure that all of its employees are aware of and well-versed in DEI efforts. It’s an essential part of integrating these efforts into the company culture and values.

Harvard Business Review: What Inclusive Companies Have in Common

A survey of 19,000 Harvard Business Review readers found that companies that have companies that were inclusive were more likely to have cultures that focused on creativity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and exploration. Companies that were not considered inclusive were found to have cultures that focused on authority, preparedness, and stability.

Questions to Ask in Your Interviews

Interviews are a prime opportunity for you to learn about a company’s culture and diversity and inclusion practices.

Curious about company culture? Ask these questions:

  • How would you describe the company's culture?
  • What does “culture fit” look like to you?
  • How do you create an open and communicative environment for employees?

Curious about long-term diversity and inclusion missions? Ask these questions:

  • How important is diversity to you as a company?
  • What DEI goals does the company have?
  • Can you discuss some of the actions the company has taken to create an inclusive work environment?
  • Are there opportunities for all employees to get involved with DEI initiatives?
  • What DEI trainings does the company hold?
  • Do you have a team specifically dedicated to improving DEI?

Curious about leadership and diversity? Ask these questions:

  • Is the leadership team committed to diversity in the organization?
  • Would you say DEI efforts are more top down or bottom up?
  • How diverse is the executive team?

Curious about diversity hiring and promotion? Ask these questions:

  • Could I meet with a member of an employee resource group?
  • What does the promotion and evaluation process look like?
  • How is the company making sure that the pipeline of candidates is diverse?
  • Where do you think there is room for improvement?

Internal Affinity Groups

Internal Diversity Groups, employee-led communities, and networks aimed at providing support for those from minority groups are one positive driving force in the movement toward greater workplace inclusion. Internal Diversity Groups are also known as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Companies also have varying names for these groups. Stripe has “Stripe Communities” whereas Apple has “Apple’s Diversity Network Associations (DNAs).”

👉 To learn about the internal affinity groups at Stripe, Google, and Amazon, read our article: Internal Diversity Groups at Top Tech Companies

External Affinity Groups

Across the country and around the globe, hundreds of non-profit organizations are making a difference and supporting diversity growth in the tech field.

While there’s still a long way to go before high-tech companies are truly diverse and equitable, these organizations are leading the way one step at a time to make that a reality.

👉 We highlight 10 organizations that support the diversification of the tech workplace in this article: Ten Organizations That Support Diversity in Tech

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Third-party data has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Candor does not receive compensation to promote or discuss any particular Company; however, Candor, its employees and affiliates, and/or its clients may hold positions in securities of the Companies discussed.