When you’re hunting for a job, it can be difficult to judge if a company actually walks the walk when it comes to LGBTQ inclusivity—or just rainbow-wash their logo during Pride. While some companies are better than others, my number one piece of advice would be to not write off a company immediately if they don’t meet your standards. While many schools are very focused on inclusion, workplaces still have a long way to go and they need passionate and knowledgeable folks like you to make the change for those you follow in your footsteps. I personally have been able to contribute to the creation of gender-neutral bathrooms, pronouns added to profiles, and inclusive benefits. This has been incredibly satisfying and makes me proud to work for a company that was open to change based on my expertise.
While interviewing, asking intentional questions can help you gauge the company’s values and policies. There are many ways to sleuth out if a company is an ally or open to change. We’ve made this checklist to help you do your homework and create a rubric to see who is hitting the important marks, and where you might have further questions. While hitting all the marks on the list would make them a superstar, hitting fewer can still show that they’re ready for your energy and can help you create smart questions for your interview. Here are three categories that can help you rank and understand where that company might be in their culture:
Pronouns in the job application form
Well, pronouns anywhere frankly are a great sign. I love seeing it right off the bat though as you’re applying. This means that the company is ensuring they are using the correct pronouns as they reach out and interview potential employees. However, I’ve rarely seen it in this stage of the process. Another key place to look is in the email signatures of any folks who reach out to you from that company.
LGBTQ+ people in leadership roles
While there is no sure-fire way to know if someone is part of the LGBTQ+ family, often you can find clues that at least show they are strong allies if not members of the community. Go to the company website or Linkedin and take a look at the VPs and directors and see if you can do some sleuthing. Do they mention being LGBTQ+? Do they follow certain telltale organizations like Out in Tech or Lesbians Who Tech?
Partnerships with community organizations
While lots of companies like to give money to community organizations, look for ones that form deep partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations that you trust. Do they fund a program or a whole scholarship program? Have they been involved for more than just June? This is a great way to see that they’re putting their money where their mouth is.
LGBTQ+ employee resource group (ERG)
Employee resource groups or ERGs are like clubs for underrepresented groups at companies. It’s a place to not only form community and connections, but also to use your strength in numbers to affect company policies. Having an ERG shows a company supports and cares about these groups, but there are also different levels of support. Some ERGs get company budget and oversight on initiatives and events, and others are a bit more homegrown as employees form them and try to get them to grow.
DEI team or department
Lots of companies in the last year have jumped onboard getting a head of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) or have hired consultants to take a look at their practices and improve them, but some companies have truly shown their investment by employing and supporting whole teams. Take a look on their website or Linkedin to see if they employ anyone and how big the team is. There is so much work to do, that one person is often hardly enough.
Gives money to LGBTQ+ community orgs
Making true change is more than just changing your logo for June. Giving money to organizations who are doing the real work is part of a holistic approach to making change for LGBTQ+ communities. While we like to see a sustained giving approach that doesn’t just limit giving money to June, giving money to these organizations is a good start no matter what time of year it is.
Original inclusivity statements
Most companies have inclusivity statements now in their hiring process (usually on the job application itself), but sometimes they feel very “copy and paste.” Look for companies that really took the time to write something custom and welcoming that stands out from the others.
We Need You Here
Budding or emerging ERGs
While it is always nice to walk into a fully fledged ERG, it can also be exciting to be a part of an emerging ERG. This means that there are employees who care enough about the company and its culture to get involved in changing it for the better. That takes a lot of passion and belief in the company as a whole. Sounds like this place could really use you and your change-making energy. If you can’t see ERGs on the company website, be sure to ask in your interview if they have any or plan to start any.
DEI person but no department or ERGs
Hiring a DEI lead is often a great start, but it can be hard for this person to succeed without more support. If you see someone in this role, this is a great start and shows the company is starting to commit. Furthermore, this person can be a great resource for budding ERGs. Take a look at who this person is and their experience as well. Are they qualified, or was it a quick hire to meet a PR quota? There are expert folks trained in this field, and elevating and hiring these experts shows a real commitment to the cause.
Inclusive mission statement
Another good indicator of an inclusion or promising company is a good mission statement. Go to their website and see if you can find an about page, or sometimes even the hiring pages on the website have good info about what they believe their workforce should look like, and how they’re contributing to something bigger.
Rainbow washing without real commitment
Ok ok, I know we’re all rolling our eyes over here, but it actually does mean something that a company is at least changing their marketing. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community at all used to mean instant brand death, and it can still be risky depending on their market. Making the effort to visually show folks that they care at all about the LGBTQ+ community is a start. If the commitment doesn’t go any deeper than this, sounds like they need someone like you as an employee to push them further. As a leader in my company’s ERG I have been part of many tough conversations where we push them to put their actions where their rainbow logos are. It’s tough, but worth the fight and wouldn’t happen without folks like you and me.
This inclusion checklist can help you evaluate if the company that is vying for your talent is worth your time and efforts. I am so excited for the next generation of amazing leaders to join the workforce and not only enjoy the safe spaces I’ve helped to build, but join me in making more radically inclusive spaces for those who have yet to come.