How to Assess a Company’s DEI Commitment as a Candidate

A job candidate sitting across a table from three

A job candidate sitting across a table from three

Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Here’s what to look for—and what to ask—before and during the interview process to find out whether an employer fosters an inclusive environment.

Pictured: A job candidate sitting across a table from three interviewers/iStock, Wavebreakmedia

The biopharma industry has increased its efforts to recruit diverse candidates in recent years, and reports by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and BioSpace show that candidates view diversity as important when looking for jobs. But how can candidates learn more about a company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion?

Diana Cruz Solash, vice president of talent and inclusion, diversity and equity at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, which placed second in BioSpace’s 2024 Best Places to Work list, suggested that candidates start by reviewing materials a company has made publicly available about its DEI efforts.

“Where does inclusion, diversity and equity live on their website? Is it prominently displayed?” Solash said. “Are there awards that they’re talking about, external recognition that could be a validation of the work the company is doing?” One example of external recognition is reputation intelligence firm Alva’s ranking of workplaces on their DEI efforts.

Candidates should also look for signs that the company is encouraging community building, such as through employee resource groups and career growth and development, Solash said. Additionally, candidates with caretaking responsibilities or health concerns should look into the company’s benefits to see whether they are adequate for the candidate’s needs, she said. The job description itself should also reflect a company’s efforts—research has found companies that explicitly mention diversity in their recruiting materials get more interest from racial minority candidates and candidates with disabilities. Positions also attract more applicants when they use language that is not age or gender specific.

Once the interview phase begins, Solash said candidates should pay attention to whether they have a diverse interview panel and whether current employees bring up DEI efforts in interviews without being prompted. If an interviewer doesn’t mention DEI, candidates should ask about it and observe the interviewer’s reaction, Solash said.

“Ideally [interviewers] would bring [DEI] up and say this is a key part of who we are as an organization,” Solash said. “If someone doesn’t bring it up, ask, and if they say ‘oh, absolutely,’ I think that’s okay. The thing that I think is a real red flag is if someone asks and they say ‘well, I don’t know much about that.’”

Questions to Ask Interviewers

Vertex trains employees to “activate [inclusion, diversity and equity] in their day to day,” Solash said, and she suggested that candidates ask how companies approach similar trainings for their employees—for example, “What are you doing to train and develop inclusive leadership skills in all of your employees?”

Candidates can also ask about how companies find potential candidates.

“If I’m a candidate, the way that I might ask a question about it is, ‘tell me a little bit about where you recruit from. How do you make sure you’ve got the widest talent pool available to you?’” Solash said.

According to Solash, interviewers should not claim they can’t find diverse candidates, but rather talk about proactive efforts such as going to conferences that give them access to different talent pools.

Candidates should also ask about how projects and assignments are determined, as this work can impact promotion opportunities, Solash said. How does a company ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work on meaningful projects and the skills to do so?

Candidates can also use the interview phase to gauge a company’s commitment to the community it serves by asking a question such as “How do you make sure you’re being a good corporate citizen and contributing to inclusion, diversity and equity in the communities where you live and work [and] that you’re seeking to serve?” Solash said.

Vertex asks diverse candidates if they would like to have members of a relevant employee resource group on their interview panel, according to Solash, but candidates at companies without a similar practice can ask to be put in touch with ERG members.

“Most companies who have these are really proud of them, so I would be surprised if somebody said, ‘oh no, we can’t do that,’” she said.

At the end of the day, organizations should ideally view DEI as the job of every employee, Solash said.

Nadia Bey is a freelance writer from North Carolina. She can be reached at