Very early in my career, I interviewed for a role at a professional services firm with an all-male interview panel. Although I could see women in the office, they all served in administrative roles. I took the job back then, but if something like this happened today, it would be a red flag. I know enough now to know that an all-male interview panel might be the first sign that diversity wasn’t top-of-mind for that employer.
Despite that early experience, I haven’t always created a perfect process from a diversity standpoint. I distinctly remember one Black male candidate who taught me a difficult lesson. After a scheduling mixup, he ended up interviewing with a group of exclusively white women. He withdrew from consideration after that experience. Although the women he interviewed with were relevant to the role, seeing a homogenous group of people in charge of this hiring decision made him question whether our company was truly invested in diversity.
This past year was rough—but there are some silver linings. One of them is our collective renewed focus on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces. Companies everywhere are now saying all the right things and enshrining diversity initiatives as pillars of their cultures. But is all the talk leading to genuine change?