Now that I no longer work for my most recent employer, I can finally, openly, discuss my job search woes. I still haven’t committed to wholeheartedly looking for my next 9-5 job just yet, because the thought of the process is not only stressful but taxing. Am I ready to search the drugstore aisles for pantyhose that most closely match my skin color? Do I want to squeeze into my standard, black pencil skirt and tightly tuck in my button-up white shirt, making me look like a well-paid waiter? Do I miss typing emails that manage to be both apathetic and eager all at once? I don’t. So I am taking my time, and pursuing other projects, and praying they will yield me some real money, where I don’t have to go back to that way of life, at least not right now.

Diversity Hiring and Promotion Efforts

I do have friends who are looking, and when I spoke to one recently, I could truly sympathize with their overall frustration. It made me think of the most irksome experiences I have had and some running themes that I grew tired of quick. One of the biggest was organizations’ newfound discovery of inclusion, diversity, and equity. I have seen it written out and described in so many ways — on websites, in email signatures and in company mission statements, which is nice. However, besides a couple of screener calls conducted by Black women, the rest of my interview experiences had me sharing my career goals with white people. There was one Latinx HR manager, but that’s it.

At the conclusion of an interview, when asked if I had any questions, I always asked: What recent diversity hiring and promotion efforts are you most excited about? I got the question from this Huffington Post article a friend sent me during the period of my most active efforts. It was a concise and more thoughtful way for me to ask, “how white is your work environment?” It unsurprisingly caught a couple of interviewers off-guard, but a few seemed to be open and ready for the question. In response, one organization’s associate, who interviewed me, went on and on about how they recognized they lacked diversity. That the executives and board members historically were largely white men, and how they were trying to fix it. Once after interviewing with a different organization, I later learned from a very trustworthy source, that that org planned specifically to hire an African-American candidate for the position — lucky us.

How White is Your Work Environment?

Companies should not be so quick to pat themselves on the back for their diversity efforts. It’s 2019, and you are still scrambling to find ways to be more inclusive.

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 Most of these companies and non-profits, with the exception of two, lacked the diversity and inclusion they spoke of so highly. A quick search of their staff page and from their own admissions told me everything I needed to know. I am glad that companies are making great strides to be more inclusive. I just left a non-profit whose staff did not represent the community they were always trying to reach. I have seen this even with a local chapter of an international women’s service organization I joined a few years back. They were doing so much to “empower at-risk families,” but besides a handful of us, the women primarily were white — the type who wore pearls with long sleeve button-ups, under t-shirts and ballet flats. Non-profits should better reflect the communities they are trying to impact.

Companies should not be so quick to pat themselves on the back for their diversity efforts. It’s 2019, and you are still scrambling to find ways to be more inclusive. When I had my recent exit interview, I told the HR Director how white the work environment was. That without me, there would only be three full-time, Black women staff members. None of them in positions of leadership and none of them having been promoted since they’ve started- in contrast to white peers. She stopped typing and shook her head solemnly, saying “we’ve been trying. I’m open to any suggestions.” Chicago is a major metropolitan city; there is a very diverse population here. There is no reason this task should be a struggle. So in this Black History Month 2019, if you are in a position to hire, or are a leader within any organization, big or small, non- or for-profit, ask yourself these questions: “Have we done all we can do to recruit a diverse staff?”, “Are we practicing what we preach?”, “How does our staff mirror the communities we want to reach?” Without asking these key questions, your “initiatives” are just patronizing and meaningless.

Featured Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels
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Are your company's Diversity Hiring and Promotion Efforts effective? It's time to honestly consider if you've done all you can to recruit a diverse staff.

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