Five Steps to Ensure Your Website Is Supporting Your Organization’s Commitment to DEIJan 06, 2023
One of the first things a prospective candidate will do when applying for a position in your organization is to search your website.
A company’s commitment to DEI is important because, for today’s job seekers, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are a requirement.
In fact, according to Jennifer Miller, from The Washington Post, Millennial and Gen Z professionals are avoiding companies without a diverse workforce, clear promotion track, and a commitment to confronting systemic racism.
A September 2020 survey from Glassdoor showed that 76% of employees and job seekers said a diverse workforce was important when evaluating companies and job offers.
For Black (80%), Hispanic (80%), and LGBTQ (79%) job seekers, these numbers were even higher. For them, a diverse workforce was an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.
While only 38% of white job seekers and employees had quit a job after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at work, the numbers were much higher for Black and Hispanic job seekers (nearly half).
Furthermore, 37% of employees and job seekers said they wouldn’t apply to a company that had negative satisfaction ratings among people of color.
Since 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has asked new graduates to rank the importance of a diverse workforce. That first year, diversity ranked 12th out of 15 options. Contrast that with results from the spring 2020 survey when diversity had risen to number seven out of 19 options.
The bottom line is that Millennials and Gen Z job seekers are coming in with higher standards regarding a company’s commitment to DEI.
They are seeking out employers who are not only hiring a more diverse workforce but are also helping employees of color advance through the ranks, giving them more decision-making power, and facilitating uncomfortable conversations about systemic racism.
Public statements about racial injustice and prompt responses to current events are also important to current job seekers. Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, argues that there has been a generational shift in the belief that DEI initiatives and values are really important and foundational to their experiences as workers.
How to Ensure Your Website is Helping, Not Hindering, Your Diversity Efforts
When I was teaching Diversity Management for the MBA program at a local university, one of the assignments I would give my students was for them to choose an organization and evaluate its overall efforts related to DEI.
Below are a few of the questions my students had to investigate based on what was posted on a company’s website.
1) Are the organization’s mission and vision statements visible?
Even more importantly, is DEI mentioned? If so, what does that say about the importance of DEI for the organization? If DEI is not clearly stated, what are the implications? What message is that sending prospective candidates?
2) How would you assess this organization’s commitment to diversity?
Will prospective candidates easily find a document describing the organization’s commitment to DEI? If not, what message does this send? How will a prospective candidate evaluate this organization’s commitment to DEI based on the documentation that is readily available?
3) Is the organization’s careers or employment opportunities page fitted to attract diverse candidates?
How is DEI presented on its "Careers" or "Employment Opportunities" page? What will candidates see? Would BIPOC or gender non-conforming candidates feel inclined to apply for a position in this organization? Do they see themselves represented (at least, on this page)? How would you evaluate this page? Does it meet the organization’s intent to attract more diverse candidates?
4) How would you assess the visual images you find on the organization’s website?
It is important that you evaluate not only the website text/copy but also the context of each message. Does it use diverse visual images on pages other than those specifically discussing diversity and inclusion? If not, what message is this sending?
5) What is your overall analysis of this website?
Make sure to search for other references to DEI throughout the website. For example, is the organization engaged in community service, and philanthropy? What do you see in the press releases? Have they won any awards? What do you make of it? How comprehensive does this company's commitment to DEI appear to be?
To be clear, your website is just one of the ways a candidate will measure your organization’s commitment to DEI. They will also look for other measures, such as: Is a DEI Officer on staff? Is the organization providing DEI programming for employees? Is unconscious bias training part of every employee’s onboarding process?
Hiring a more diverse workforce is just the first step though. Helping employees of color advance through the ranks, giving them more decision-making power, and facilitating uncomfortable conversations about systemic racism are also important ways your organization can demonstrate support for diverse populations.
Corporate responsibility statements are also important. Job seekers today want to find statements about a clear commitment to racial justice and that the organization has promptly responded to current events.
After George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May of 2020, for example, many organizations reported to NACE they had released statements about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many of these organizations were also reexamining their hiring and personnel policies through a DEI lens.
Sadly, though, a 2022 study on the future of DEI showed that most organizations still lack effective DEI initiatives, even when these organizations assert that DEI plays a role in their strategic planning.
In other words, there is a lot of work yet to be done.
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