My DEI Sniff Test

I recently started a fantastic and challenging new job, but before I got here I spent 6 long months carefully job hunting.

At this point in my career, I have afforded myself the right to be a lot more picky about where and with whom I work since I spend more waking hours with coworkers (and customers!) than I do with my family.

For most of my professional career I’ve been the “Lonely Only” along several axes, and I didn’t want that anymore. I didn’t want to have to be the sole representative of diversity anymore or feel burdened with the task of rifling through my LinkedIn to fill the pipeline with underindexed folks.

So, I took a more studied approach to job hunting. Rather than just relying on “warm intros” from white male friends, I struck out and did a lot of my own research and quickly developed a “diversity sniff test” that. I hoped this tweaked approach might prevent me getting into some of the same messes I’d been in before. So, what’d I do? Well here’s a few things.

1. I checked the picture on the team page

I know team pictures can be outdated and misleading, but a quick scan for people of color on the team page can at least give you a sense of whether the company has made any effort to show that they care enough to at least try to show that people of color are welcome there. For whatever it’s worth, Teachable’s Careers page was one that stuck out in my mind as making me feel like I’d be comfortable there.

2. I looked into who was actually in leadership.mostlywhiteguys
A careers page can only tell you so much. I’ve definitely worked at places where they purposely position the women and POC in front during picture time to make them jump out in the picture even though few were in leadership roles. Finding out who is actually in charge around there sometimes requires sniffing around on site like LinkedIn and Crunchbase. Once you know who they are, you might peek at their Twitter to get a sense of what actually matters to them .

3. I looked at what they sponsored.

nylasdiCompanies that truly care about DEI should be going beyond hire a few brown faces and be giving money and time to groups and events that want to disrupt the ratio. This can be a cover up too (one need look at all the noxious corporate pride stuff), but it gives you a little signal that they are trying to exhibit some amount of virtue or what Prof Scott Galloway from Pivot podcast cynically calls “Woke As A Business Strategy“.

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I am not saying my current company perfectly ticked all my boxes. None of this sniffing is foolproof, but this research — coupled with working my diverse network to ask several pointed questions of the whispernet— did yield a better result than in the past.

How about you? How do you sniff out companies that share your values? Drop me a line and let me know!

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