How to find a safe and inclusive work environmentFeatured

This post is for everyone who ticks off any diversity boxes and is trying to find a safe and inclusive workspace. During the past few years, I’ve changed a few jobs and identified which red flags and green lights to look for.

Perform a screening of the company you want to work with

Hiring is a two-way street. Your employers have a detailed screening process, but you need to have one as well. These are my main steps:

  • Look for a diversity page
  • Look at their about page - are there any women? POC? LGBTQ members?
  • What are their values?
  • Read reviews on Glassdoor/LinkedIn

These are all simple steps that can speak volumes. I’ve been falsely informed during interviews, and I blame myself for not fact-checking some things beforehand. You need to make sure that the people you will work with have the same values as you do, otherwise, you won’t be as excited about working there.

Check the vibe of the company

Make sure to prepare a list of questions to ask before any interview. Don’t be afraid of asking questions and making sure that the people you will work with are the right match for you. Evaluate your potential manager. Sure, we all need money to survive, but making money is difficult when you don’t work with people you actually want to work with.

  • Ask them about their management style. Top to bottom, or flat? How do they organize work? Make sure that the “fast-paced environment” you’re joining isn’t a synonym for “we make people burn out and quit”.
  • Make sure you understand why they are hiring for that role. Is it a new position or did someone leave? If someone left, why?
  • Discover whether and how they support career growth.
  • Mentorship vs Management – what style do they practice? Are you going to have someone who will own your career growth?
  • Ask them about their anti-discriminatory practices. How do they handle difficult situations at work?

Can your future manager actually manage you?

This is more of a problem in a smaller company or a startup, but it was one of the biggest problems I’ve experienced. Sometimes, your manager doesn’t really understand your job. Sometimes, hiring is a task they’ve been given by someone else. Sometimes founders themselves want to hire someone to own part of the work they don’t know how to handle. The question is, can you handle them?

  • Check whether you’d be comfortable having your interviewer as your manager. Are they really more senior than you? Or did they just land in that position?
  • Ask them about the projects and try to figure out what makes your manager happy at that company.
  • Try to understand how the collaboration process goes in the team and between multiple teams.
  • Check how they’d support your career growth. Do they need a screw or a toolbox? Will they actually encourage your growth or will they try to keep you in the same spot for as long as they can because of their business needs?

If you don’t have a good manager, you’re not going to have a great time at that place.

How to make your existing workplace more inclusive?

I was the first openly queer employee in quite a few companies. Definitely the first Serbian one in 99% of them 🤣. Sometimes the people who hired me didn’t know how to make the job ad or the company stand out more to the LGBTQ+ community. They didn't know how to communicate that they are accepting of people with different backgrounds or cultures. After all, you have to start from somewhere.Sometimes, HR people really need our help and guidance, and I was always eager to help when people approached me. I was involved in making a diversity page for my existing company. They didn’t know what I was looking at during the interview process, but once me and other colleagues spoke up, the management team listened. They also made gender-neutral job ads and improved the tone of voice in future job listings.Here are some ideas on how you can help:

  • Start a group that can discuss these issues and raise them with the People team. Offer them your help. Sometimes people aren’t sure what to do when they aren’t a minority member.
  • Offer help with making the diversity page.
  • Make sure to share women-only job boards and LGBTQ+ boards with the recruitment team.

Let’s make the workplace a better place for all

Finding a safe and inclusive environment at these times may seem like an unlikely chance, but you need to be aware that you bring your full self to the table, so it is crucial to screen the company that is screening you.

If you are already in a good spot, teach the rest of the team how to attract more people who might tick off any diversity boxes. Sometimes we need to be the ones who can signal to others that there are good spots out there.

Thanks for sharing this practical and comprehensive guide 🌟
Thanks for giving it a read!
I have been so disappointed at what passes for an inclusive environment in tech. Especially when “supporting women” means they throw some money into having support groups so that we can better tolerate their bias with a smile, but still you can never force them to be “data-driven” and inspect how their leadership decisions are impacting marginalized individuals on the job. Seriously have seen many layoffs that are 80% or more POC, women, LGBTQIA+ and those who are over 40, yet there are never consequences for them. If you lead any diversity initiative, the most important thing to me is to see the metrics over time. Not just for hiring. For performance, pay, promotions and those leaving the company. Show us the dashboard. Everything else is lip service. I literally work for anyone who can call me “bro” less than 3x during the interview process because what they say is so disconnected from what they do. They are so in love with their own intentions they refuse to look at their impact. As long as they can decimate their diversity metrics and still get a bonus and high performance review, this will not change.This is a very constructive post you made and I clearly need to work past my feelings of betrayal here & get to a better place before I collaborate constructively on this topic. I am sharing this in case anyone else here is feeling hopeless, so they know they are not alone.
Your emotions and experiences are 100% valid. Finding the right company isn't a walk in the park, especially in these times and in this economy.It's ok to have a job because you simply need one, like most of us, just keep an eye on more inclusive job openings and find companies you'd genuinely want to work in.
I love this post! Thank you!
Thank you for your support!