Some companies still cling to cultures designed to support and advance those who are part of the good old boys' network. While many employers are now working hard to make their workplaces more inclusive, many African Americans, like others not privy to the traditional office clique, find their careers stagnating.
Avoid this situation by seeking out companies committed to diversity -- those doing more than just talking about the importance of hiring minorities. During your job search, look for companies that do the following:
Commit Resources to Recruiting African Americans.
These companies recruit on college campuses where African Americans are well-represented. Such companies attend minority job fairs and African American conferences, and offer minority internship programs. They also advertise in publications and on Web sites that target African Americans.
Retain and Promote African American Employees.
Coaching, formal mentoring, training and leadership-development programs are some of the tools used to retain and promote minorities. Make sure you look into whether the company's African American employees are concentrated in lower-level positions, located in only a few departments or are represented at all levels throughout the organization.
Support Diversity at the Senior-Management Level.
Organizations in which senior management supports diversity are more likely to create a corporate culture and an environment that enables your career to thrive.
Use Quantitative Metrics to Measure Performance.
These methods are more likely to produce performance reviews based on actual merit and not how a supervisor feels personally about a subordinate.
Demonstrate a Commitment to the African American Community.
Diverse companies encourage their employees to volunteer in the community, donate resources and funds, sponsor events, provide scholarships and partner with organizations dedicated to African American advancement.
Now that you know what to look for when evaluating a potential employer's commitment to diversity, use these resources to collect this information:
Most companies offer a variety of resources through which you can uncover information about corporate culture and commitment to diversity. Check out company Web sites, mission statements, policies, annual reports, videos, recruitment literature and advertisements. Also, ask around or set up informational interviews with current or former staff.
Much diversity data and information about company culture can be found in articles devoted to spotlighting diversity programs. Lists like "the best places to work" have become increasingly popular. Those that specifically address the needs of African Americans include Fortune's Best Companies for Minorities and Black Collegian's Top 100 Employers.
African Americans researching potential employers' commitment to diversity often find they have to sift through disconnected pieces of information. You must view all that you uncover with a degree of skepticism to effectively evaluate and use this information to get to the truth. The decisions you make will have a far-reaching impact on your career.