Glassdoor is proud to partner with the incredible storytelling organization The Moth to bring you stories of work, self, and perseverance. The following is one of the stories we will share over the next few weeks that we hope will inspire you to know your worth and reach for what you deserve.
Abhishek Shah graduated in 2008 at the height of the economic recession. Not a terribly good time to be job hunting. Yet, he eventually landed an interview and planned for it meticulously, even going as far as learning the local sports culture so that he could chit-chat with his potential employers.
Feeling confident after his fourth and final interview, Abhishek accepted a lunch invitation from his new potential manager. Despite all his prep, he did not anticipate dining with chopsticks — or the series of mishaps that led to him spilling hot soup all over his new future boss.
Determined not to lose this opportunity, Abhishek decided to make this potential manager an offer he couldn’t refuse. “One, I will never have sushi with you again, “ he said. “The second is that I can bring diversity into your group and since all your clients are from India, I can speak to them in my local language and we could really work this out.”
He got the job. And even though "there were tons of applicants and the competition was very tough,” Abhishek told us in a follow-up interview, “the only way to move forward was to focus on things that were in my control instead of focusing on things that weren’t.”
What does Abhishek’s story tell us? You can try to fit in all you want. But sometimes, it’s what makes you different that helps you stand out.
Anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion programs make for better business
Abhishek’s pitch gives us a potent example of how diversifying your employee base makes good business sense. When you transform your employee base from a homogenous to diverse one, you stand to expand your customer base while also discovering new ways to serve your current one.
A recent global study revealed that “the relationship between [gender, ethnic and cultural] diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time.”
Their research also cites that “companies with more than 30% women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30. “ The numbers were equally favorable when it came to ethnic and cultural diversity: “in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36% in profitability.”
However, a true commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADE&I) goes beyond a simple numbers game and thinks about how people from all backgrounds can be meaningfully represented — and given equal opportunity — at all levels of the company.
Still, there can be a tendency for organizations to assume that improving diversity means hiring a greater number of people from underrepresented groups at the lowest level of the organization. However, a true commitment to ADE&I goes beyond a simple numbers game and thinks about how people from all backgrounds can be meaningfully represented — and given equal opportunity — at all levels of the company.
How to talk about diversity and inclusion during job interviews
An interview is as much an opportunity for you to suss out a future employer as it is an opportunity for them to suss you out. How can you talk about ADE&I with your future manager? Here are some topics you may want to raise.
- Ask about ADE&I programs: The best way to find out where a company stands on ADE&I is to ask them. Look at their website to see what kinds of programs/support they offer for underrepresented groups. If plans don’t seem to have materialized, ask how and when the company plans to roll them out. If you sense a lack of direction or receive vague answers, then ADE&I may not be a top priority for them.
- Ask if they’re willing to accommodate specific faith-based needs: If you have specific needs around prayer or practicing your faith during working hours, let your employer know upfront and see whether they’re willing to integrate that within your work schedule.
- Look up diversity and inclusion transparency reports online: A positive sign that a company is actively looking to move the needle on ADE&I is if they publish an annual diversity and inclusion transparency report. Examine this data and ask future employers pointed questions about what they’re doing to address discrepancies in representation.
Even if the circumstances surrounding your job search aren’t the best, believe in your own inherent value and capabilities and speak about them with future employers. "Indian heritage is all about working hard, respecting others, and being humble and down to earth," Abhishek told us in his follow-up interview. "All these values are very good ingredients to become a successful employee and that’s why there are so many Indian people who are doing amazing things across the world." For Abhishek, he knew his Indian heritage gave him values and skills that his future employer needed, he just had to make sure his interviewer knew it too.
“Sometimes we might feel that the interview is going in a certain way, but you never know what the interviewer is thinking about,” says Abhishek. “It's important to be focused and give your best until the very last question.”