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The past three years have thrown a tremendous amount our way. Every day, it feels like there’s another breaking news cycle that encourages us to immediately move on from the tragedy that just occurred and instead focus on today’s crisis. And people are fed up. They’re demanding more from public officials, their community, friends, family, and importantly—their workplace.
According to a recent New York Times article, more than forty million people left their jobs last year. Originally labeled “The Great Resignation,” that movement has shifted over time to be called “The Great Renegotiation,” “The Great Reshuffle,” and now “The Great Rethink.”
And despite fears of a looming US recession, this pandemic-era trend is continuing. Labor demand is still high (the Labor Department reported nearly 11.3 million job openings in May), yet 4.3 million people voluntarily left their jobs in May, only a slight decrease from the peak of 4.5 million in March.
While a large portion of these employees are in the retail, hospitality, and healthcare industries, the rest of corporate America (particularly the tech sector) is also being impacted. From a generational standpoint, employees between thirty and forty-five years old (i.e., millennials) have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20 percent between 2020 and 2021. From a DEI standpoint, a report by UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Institute shows that Latinas are leaving the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic, with a reduction of 2.74 percent between March 2020 and March 2021.
Why are so many Latinas leaving their jobs? In part, it’s about securing higher pay, increased stability and flexibility, career advancement opportunities, emotional and mental support, and finding personal fulfillment. But Latinas—and many others currently on the job hunt—also want to work for companies that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Companies that don’t just talk about their values but put those values into action.
But how can prospective job searchers and career shifters know if a company is actually living by its self-proclaimed values versus relying on performative actions? Here are a few key things to look for as you do research and secure interviews:
1. Identify Behaviors and Core Value Measurement
It’s become established norm for businesses in Silicon Valley to promote their company values via their website and social media platforms, and/or feature an artistic mural in the office lobby so that all who pass through the hallways can stop and chat about how management “is really committed to DEI.”
Probing beyond those public statements will give you real insight into the depths of a company’s values. When you’re in an interview, or even when you’re having a formal or informal conversation with someone who works at your prospective employer, start asking questions.
What internal and external behaviors is the company embodying that reflect its values? How is the company measuring those behaviors, and how is it measuring the progress it makes towards its goals? Is progress published year-over-year in a formal company report? If the company falls short of the goal, what is their action plan for recalibrating or rectifying the situation?
And if other individuals—employees, customers, vendors, or partners—don’t act in accordance with the company’s stated values, how does the company respond? I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve been placed in uncomfortable situations where a company partner, for example, has made a completely inappropriate joke or told a story about a racial minority group. But I was the only person of color in the room, and in the moment, nothing was said to combat it. Afterward, even when I addressed the situation, nothing was done to rectify it.
2. Listen to What the Company Is Saying (and What They’re Not)
Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month—the list goes on. These occasions often serve as a convenient moment for companies to check off a box on a calendar of events and demonstrate how they’ve “authentically” recognized and celebrated their employees’ importance.
You’re committed to women in the workplace? How many women serve on your board of directors? How many women are in senior leadership positions? What does your female talent acquisition and retention pipeline look like? What employer programs do you have in place to support working moms? What does female mentorship look like at your company? Do you always support professional women, or only when it’s convenient?
Outside of these calendar events, how does your company stand up for internal and external stakeholders? When it’s not convenient to say something, when it could impact your business’s brand and reputation or even your bottom line, what do you do?
3. Look at the Company Through the Eyes of Key Stakeholders
The proliferation of technology has changed our ability to access massive amounts of information. Nowadays, nothing is secret. A quick search of the internet, news, social media, and other platforms can easily tell you what internal and external stakeholders really think about a company’s brand and reputation.
Do some digging to understand your potential employer through the eyes of those they claim to be serving, helping, and supporting. How do they show up in the community and for their partners, customers, employees, public officials, and more? What are the connective themes or topics (e.g., poor customer service) that continually pop up? And if there have been any complaints, negative reports, or crises, how has the company handled their response? It’s in those bad times that you can really see how a company’s values and core culture are lived.
Fortunately, finding an employer that satisfies all the criteria outlined in this article won’t be as hard as you might think. The world is not the same as it was three years ago: continuous change (and hopefully progress) has reshaped public expectations, and more corporations than ever are choosing to meet this moment with a strong, genuine commitment to their core values. Values that will help them, and their diverse employee base, take the business to the next level.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Hispanic Executive or Guerrero Media.
Oriana Branon is the VP of communications and corporate affairs for Aristocrat Gaming, a global gaming content and technology company. In her role, she oversees all external and internal communications for the gaming division, and provides strategic guidance on the organization’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) as well as sustainability and ethical impact, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Her background spans over sixteen years in communications and external engagement for both B2B and B2C companies in highly regulated industries. She is passionate about opening education and career pathways for traditionally underrepresented communities and serves on the board of directors for the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Oriana has been recognized for her outstanding work in communications as a PRWeek Woman to Watch and 40 under 40 awardee, and for being a pioneering Latina in Forbes and Latina Style.
She holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in communications and sociology and has two daughters, Gabriela and Micaela.