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Embracing your diversity in a job search process

Posted on 17 January 2024

Embracing your diversity in a job search process

​8-minute read

Let's begin this article by clarifying its purpose. This is not a guide on how to exploit your diversity to manipulate a job interview panel into securing a position, I hope everyone realises that this is simply not ethical. Instead, with the insights of two accomplished Talent Acquisition experts, Rebecca Newson from the So Energy team and Matthew Noble from Tradebyte, we aim to elucidate how you can embrace diversity. More importantly, we will explore the methods you can employ during your job search to identify companies that genuinely uphold diversity and are more likely to provide effective support for your career growth.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a complex and extensive subject. This article will scratch the surface, but we have witnessed firsthand how these strategies, when used thoughtfully, can make a positive impact.

We extend our thanks to Rebecca and Matthew for their contributions to this article and hope that you discover some key insights if you are considering a company change.

 

What do we mean by ‘embracing your diversity’

When you first came across the title of this article, it may have stirred strong emotions, leading you to believe it's about using diversity to gain an advantage in the market. Hopefully, by now, you've read the first sentence and realised that this isn't the case. However, we stand by our choice of title for a reason.

At its essence, embracing your diversity is about acknowledging what makes you unique, as Rebecca aptly pointed out. Reflecting on a previous conversation I had with Alaa Elsayed of Scoutbee, we discussed the importance of shifting our language from 'diversity hiring' to 'hiring a diverse group'. This shift enables us to view individuals as just that—unique individuals.

As a job seeker, regardless of your background or circumstances, you bring a distinct perspective to the challenges the organisation faces. Rebecca shared that you can contribute to creativity, foster increased innovation, and enhance decision-making, to name just a few benefits.

Matthew also added that you can enrich the company's culture rather than merely fitting into what they prescribe.

Embracing your diversity precisely means that—celebrating what makes you, you and seeking an organisation that nurtures an environment where your uniqueness is not only accepted but encouraged.

 

How to identify truly diverse companies

Is an organisation genuinely embodying diversity as an integral part of its culture and beliefs, or is it merely adopting a façade for marketing purposes? While no one readily admits to the latter, it is essential to discern the authenticity of an organisation's commitment during the interview process, particularly if diversity is a crucial factor for you.

Rebecca and Matthew have shared tips that can assist you in more confidently identifying teams that align better with your preferences. While these tips are not foolproof, they can certainly streamline your selection process.

 

Diversity Blurb

You may have noticed diversity blurbs making their way into job descriptions lately, often placed toward the end. Rebecca shared it's generally a positive indicator if a company includes one of these in their specifications. While some may use a copy/paste approach that is more generic, it's still a commendable step in demonstrating their dedication to fostering diverse teams.

Take the time to read these descriptions thoroughly. Pay attention to the language employed; it should be unique to that specific company. Does it resonate with what you find on their website or align with their stated values? This inclusion shouldn't be a mere response to market trends but a genuine reflection of the company's commitment. If you are not sure what they look like, see So Energy’s:

‘At So Energy, we’re committed to cultivating an environment that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We are a global community, and we believe our unique qualities should be celebrated as they are critical to our innovation. It’s essential to us that you bring your authentic self to work every single day, no matter your age, ethnicity, religion, citizenship, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, caring responsibilities, neurodiversity, or otherwise. Inclusion isn’t just an initiative at So Energy. We strive to embed it not just into our values but throughout our entire culture.’

 

Neurodivergent Support

"Diversity" often brings to mind ethnicity or gender, but it's important to remember neurodivergent individuals. Rebecca and Matthew emphasise that companies have come a long way to increase inclusivity for neurodivergent applicants. For instance, So Energy, ensures accommodation for those needing assistance. This includes extra time for coding challenges, neurodivergent interviewers for better understanding, and inclusion of carers during hiring if necessary.

Many may hesitate to disclose neurodivergent traits initially, possibly due to past misunderstandings in catering to their needs. However, if you're comfortable and believe additional support is beneficial, don't hesitate to ask. Truly diverse companies will have considered this and be prepared to provide the necessary accommodations.

 

Probe around Diversity Journey

Matthew suggests that job seekers should inquire deeply about a company's commitment to diversity, focusing on their specific journey and current stage. Engage with HR or People teams to understand the projects they undertake, such as training for unconscious bias.

Rebecca adds that it's also valuable to ask how the company reduces bias and fosters diverse talent pools during hiring. For instance, do they use an Applicant Tracking System that anonymises names and photos? Probing questions like these can reveal whether the company's focus on diversity is sincere or merely a marketing strategy.

 

Employee Resource Group (ERG)

We chose to explain separately the significance of inquiring about Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) during job interviews, as suggested by Matthew. ERGs are dedicated to supporting specific groups within an organisation, demonstrating that diverse voices are heard and valued.

The lack of ERGs doesn't necessarily imply a disregard for diversity; the organisation might have alternative structures or names for such initiatives, or they may be at a different stage in their diversity journey. Asking about ERGs or at least the possibility of implementing them will go a long way to uncovering the team's agenda for diversity.

 

Employee Backgrounds

To gain insights into the current structure of an organisation, it's advisable to inquire about the composition of existing teams. Investigate the typical backgrounds from which the organisation recruits. Request information not only on gender and ethnicity but also on the educational and professional backgrounds of team members.

Access to such data can reveal the team’s awareness of its diversity landscape, whether positive or negative. This information can also assist in understanding the organisation's hiring preferences, whether they prioritise candidates who align with a culture fit mentality (evidenced by similar backgrounds) or those who contribute to a more diverse and inclusive environment which will create a culture add structure.

Matthew explained in our discussion the importance of understanding that during a job interview, you're also evaluating the company, just as they are assessing you. He suggested that each interview is an opportunity to delve into detailed inquiries, helping you assess whether the role and the company are the right fit for you, thereby maximising the value of the interview process.

 

Rebecca further advised on the importance of familiarising yourself with the company's true culture. She recommended conducting research before the interview by looking into company reviews, statistics, values, and articles, and then using the interview to confirm these findings for a comprehensive perspective.

 

Additionally, it's crucial to be aware of potential warning signs, such as the language and imagery used in the job description or any indications that the company may not accommodate your needs.

 

While acknowledging that it's not always possible to get a perfect understanding of a company, and that companies might occasionally present an enhanced image of themselves, the advice in this article aims to help you position yourself closer to finding a suitable work environment more often than not.

Thank you as always to our readers who help drive important topics like these and our guests for helping us bring their knowledge to light. Let’s collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment and share this among our networks so more people can learn how to detect diverse companies.

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