Inclusive hiring – employer branding

Your employer brand is your reputation as a place to work. It’s what staff and job seekers really think of you. It includes both the stories a company tells about itself on their careers page and social media and the stories that staff share in their networks and on social media about what it’s really like to work at your company.  As I shared in my first post in this series, before you market your culture you need to have a clear understanding of your culture now, including both the things you’re proud of and the things you need to fix.

"part of our dna" ribbon banner

This phrase is such a cliché that there are literally hundreds of stock images.

DEI is core to a company’s employer brand, but it’s not enough to just say that. Almost all companies that I’ve looked at have some statement like “DEI is core to our DNA” but most do not have the receipts to back up this bold statement.

For example, Coinbase says “We are committed to ensuring that every employee feels they belong and can do their best work.” All this while an article in the New York Times documents bullying and discrimination of Black employees. How do parents and others with caregiving responsibilities fare in a culture characterized as  “the most intense place we’ve ever worked? Sure, recharge weeks are nice, but most caregivers are near or at their breaking point. Coinbase can make a claim that they are committed to fostering an environment where employees feel like they belong and can do their best work, but when I read this article and blog post it just doesn’t line up.

Coinbase reviews: 4.3/5, 83% recommend to a friend, 90% approve of CEO, Brian Armstrong 186 ratings

Glassdoor can be a useful perspective about a company, but like any information you need to view it through a critical lens. Let’s look at Coinbase’s reviews. At first glance they seem excellent: 4.3 out of 5 and 90% approve of the CEO. Their DEI score is also 4.3. That seems good, right? I have so many questions. What is being measured here? How are marginalized staff’s voices being weighed against majority voices? What does this even mean? A year and half ago I dug into this and I’m not sure 4.3 out of 5 stars means anything

For job seekers evaluating if a company is right for you, take what’s on Glassdoor with a giant grain of salt. Reach out to people in your network, especially entry level or hourly staff, and ask what their experience has been like. I also specifically reach out to women of color, queer and trans folks to hear their stories to understand if I’ll be safe, welcome and set up and supported to make the impact that I want to. 

Open book on old wooden table

Humans are hardwired for stories. So, tell the stories of the impact that your staff make in the world and how your company really lives the values that you’ve listed on your careers page. Tell the stories that illustrate how your distributed culture is awesome. Share about how your organization is deepening your commitment to anti-racism by where you bank and your other vendors. Let’s hear from the women who are part of the C-suite or are engineering leaders. Or how you show up for the LGBTQ+ community – not only for Pride month, but also all year long in your products and business. 

Your posts highlighting the accessibility team should follow accessibility best practices e.g. being written in plain English, using headings, and ensuring images have alt text and that video content has captions. And it’s great you want to hire underrepresented talent, but where are you supporting us to grow and be wildly successful? Tell those stories.

I’m not a fan of pay-to-play employer awards like:

  • Great Place to Work ($2995 CAD for a 1000 person company)
  • Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators (entry fee varies by date: $695-895 USD)
  • Canada’s Top Employers magazine (application fee: $1395 CAD)

I’m skeptical how objective these awards are when employers are paying for consideration. Pay to play also leaves out so many small and medium businesses. Spend your money elsewhere. 

Your employer brand also will show up in your job descriptions and your hiring process, which I’ll cover in the next two posts in this five-part series.

Thank you to Diane Tate and Rian Finnegan for feedback on this post.