Prepare for Candidate Diversity Equity & Inclusion Questions in 2022

Here at Searchlight, we’ve been helping organizations grow and retain top talent for over two decades, primarily in the advertising, tech, and marketing industries. We’ve worked with huge, global conglomerates tiny startups, as well as everything in between—and in that time, we’ve observed important developments in the recruitment space. In this article, we’re going to discuss a crucial aspect of how organizations build teams in 2022: diversity, equity, and inclusion.

62% of employees between the ages of 18 and 34 feel their company should do more to increase efforts around diversity and inclusion. Given that equates to over 40% of the U.S. workforce, you may want to prepare yourself for DEI-related questions from employees and candidates alike.

5 Important Diversity Equity & Inclusion Questions for 2022

Our goal, in this article, is not to dictate what your DEI policy should be. Instead, we’ve highlighted five increasingly common questions our clients hear from interviewees. We also included a few points to consider so you can prepare thoughtful and comprehensive responses surrounding one of today’s most important topics.

What initiatives does the company have that ensure all team members feel represented and included?

Consider this your warm-up. You could, for example, discuss the non-denominational holiday party and the process your organization has for 1:1 employee/manager feedback loops. If that is the route you take, prepare for the next question to be a bit more direct.

Does your organization promote any employee resource groups? If so, mention them now. Better yet, if your organization has specific DEI initiatives, this is your time to shine. Explain not only the details of your programs, but also why your organization believes they are necessary.

How does your organization define diversity?

The definition of diversity is, in itself, diverse. Some feel the term covers only racial or cultural diversity, while others include gender diversity, religion, LGBTQ+ status or other characteristics.

Determining, and socializing, an organizational definition of diversity is important to both successfully respond to this question, but also to determine the right programs and policies to support that classification.

How diverse is your organization’s management team?

If you have a fairly diverse team, back it up with some statistics. If your leaders are not diverse, that is not an automatic disqualifier for all candidates. However, if your situation is not accompanied by an open acknowledgement, and corresponding interest by the top of the organization around investigating a change, whether it be in gender, racial or thought diversity, you may want to consider why. The ability to relay your stance in a logical way will help you from alienating a good chunk of candidates, as well as providing an important point for discussion in the leadership of your company.

What DEI metrics does your organization track?

Now we’re talking about specifics, and this is where your words should be backed up by data. If you track DEI metrics, consider providing any measurements you typically make available to employees along with any trend data and/or related goals. When explaining what is tracked, be sure to cover how that information is used in decision-making to either meet existing goals or determine what goals and efforts might be needed.

If there are metrics that are regularly shared with executives, but not the broader organization, consider mentioning them in general terms. Perhaps your company does an annual review of compensation to ensure that men and women are paid equally when taking into account level and tenure. While you don’t need to relay the specifics of the most recent review and any remedies you took, mentioning that your organization performs analysis of this type will typically go a long way.

Pro Tip: Interested in beginning, or expanding, DEI metric tracking but not sure where to start? Check out Gartner’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Metrics Inventory for a fairly robust list of potential metrics by audience type.

What is the company’s stance on remote work?

This may not seem like a DEI question; however, how you respond has the ability to shut down a conversation.

It’s no secret that working parents deal with a great deal of stress. Managing doctor’s appointments, basketball practice, homework, and quarterly reports often combine into a perfect storm of hair pulling stress. Psychology Today published an article at the start of the pandemic stressing how moms in the U.S. have it the worst when compared with other Western industrialized countries. Fast forward 1.5 years and you can see the effects of covid, and at-home learning in particular.

Over 2.3 million women left the workforce in the U.S. between February 2020 and February 2021. One change that may have kept the numbers from being even higher, was the large shift to remote working environments. According to a Gallup poll, 52% of employed Americans say they worked at home at some point during the pandemic. 35% of all full-time employees (but even more women than men) want to continue working at home as much as possible in the future.

We understand that not all jobs lend themselves to remote work. However, it’s worth noting that a midpandemic McKinsey study indicated that >20% of the workforce could work remotely 60 – 100% of the time with no impact on effectiveness. Whether remote work is an option for your open roles or not, some type of schedule flexibility allows all working parents to better navigate various demands, positively impacting their health, morale, overall ability to handle their workload and interest in working for your organization.

Next Steps

Whether you have a strong DEI program or not, now is the time to strategize about how you want potential candidates to perceive you and your organization. As your team thinks through these and other recruiting challenges, check out our additional resources here, or feel free to contact Searchlight any time for help.