Home > Article
Even though the recruitment of both groups is on the rise, most companies still have a long way to go before achieving parity. Meanwhile, diverse professionals continue to face formidable obstacles, including lower salaries and fewer advancement opportunities than their white male counterparts.
Chandra Prasad interviewed over a hundred human resources personnel, career counselors, head hunters, managers, and jobseekers for her book Outwitting the Job Market: Everything You Need to Locate and Land a Great Position. While the book focuses on general strategies for job market success, here the author--an Asian American--talks about which employers are truly committed to diversity, why mentors are especially important to minorities and women, and why shifting demographics mean new challenges ahead.
The former Editor-at-Large of Vault.com, Prasad has been quoted as a workplace expert by Black Entertainment Television, The Christian Science Monitor, the Gay Financial Network, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Finding Your Dream Job Online. Her feature articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal and College Journal, IMDiversity.com, True Careers, and others.
IMDiversity.com: Do women and minorities need to approach the job search process differently than everyone else?
Chandra Prasad: Jobseekers who are female or in a
minority group don't have to take a different approach, but
they may choose to take a broader one. Both groups can
enhance their chances of success by looking not only at
general job search sites, but also at sites that have the
best interests of diverse candidates in mind. IMDiversity is
such a resource, as are HACE (Hispanic Alliance for Career
Advancement) and The Black Collegian, and there are many
Q: How can one know if a company is truly committed to diversity or if it is just paying lip service?
A: One of the best ways to find out if a company is truly diversity-friendly is to speak with someone within the organization. In a best case-scenario, you might have a personal contact who works there and will give you an honest answer. But if you don't already have a contact, be observant. Look around as you're on your interview--do you see a diverse staff or a homogenous one? Are the executive level and board of directors comprised of only white men? That should send you a message right there. If you establish a comfortable rapport with your interviewer and decide you want to out-and-out ask about diversity within the company, listen carefully to his response. Does your interviewer give a pat and insubstantial answer? Or does he provide real and compelling proof that the company is committed to diversity by citing actual percentages of women and minorities who are employed or by offering details on programs and initiatives aimed at the recruitment and retention of these groups? Another way to check on a company is to scan the web site of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Each month the site posts reports on major litigation settlements by various employers.
Q: In your opinion which companies are standouts when it comes to diversity?
A: American Express, Ford, Fannie Mae, IBM, and Deloitte have
all been praised recently for their commitment to
Q: You talk about the importance of mentors in your book. Is finding a mentor in the workplace more or less important for women and minorities?
A: In general I believe mentors are even more important for
minorities and women because these groups may have unique
concerns and barriers. A survey by Catalyst, a nonprofit
research organization focusing on women in business, supports
this idea. The survey found that of 368 women of color, 69%
who had a mentor in 1998 had at least one upward career move
by 2001 compared to 49% of those who didn't have a
Q: In the workplace, isn't there a danger of focusing on difference too much?
A: Well, you might not want to be branded as the mouthpiece of feminism or racial identity because any stereotypes or labels, even positive ones, are potentially dangerous. The best way to deal with difference is to acknowledge it--but not dwell on it--and to consider it a factor in your professional prospects. This is particularly important at the start of your career. Choose a company that is noted for embracing diversity, seek out at least one mentor, and constantly strive to keep your skills set current and in-demand. Highly successful minority professionals will tell you that race was not the determining factor in their careers. Success for just about everyone boils down to the same basics: professional excellence, dedication, ingenuity, and a reliable network.
Q: What does the future hold for minority and women professionals?
A: The future looks very bright. Many companies are getting the message that the American demographic has shifted and will continue to shift. According to "Futurework: Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century," a report from the Department of Labor, by 2050 minorities will rise from being one in every four Americans to one in every two. Of course, smart companies know that to serve a diverse clientele they need a diverse staff. That is why we see minority and female hiring on the rise and why this trend will certainly continue. The next test, I think, is not women and minorities succeeding in the workplace, but climbing to the highest ranks in substantial numbers--and helping others up.
Article copyrighted by IMDiversity, Inc., publisher of IMDiversity.com Career Center & Multicultural Villages Network, THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine, and THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Online, the career and self-development site for students of color.
More Related Articles
Investigating a Company's Commitment to Diversity
The world today is more diverse than ever, and having a distinct environment, rich with ideas and perspectives, is one key ingredient in a formula for business success. So how can you make sure the companies you are considering have a true commitment to diversity? Like everything else, it all starts with doing your homework.
Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Candidates
Here are some tips to help build diversity in your organization through recruitment.
What to Ask About Tuition Reimbursement
Tuition reimbursement can be a very valuable benefit if you are planning to go back to school. In addition to salary and benefits, it is something to keep in mind when evaluating a job offer if continuing your education is a priority.
Google Web Search
Didn't see what you were looking for?
powered by Google