Shaping the future of work: the role of diversity statements in job applications

Jun 01, 2023

4 mins

Shaping the future of work: the role of diversity statements in job applications
Sophia Constantino

Sophia Constantino is a Paris-based freelance journalist originally from New York.

In the sea of job applications, standing out from the crowd can feel daunting. However, there’s a new tool in the modern jobseeker’s kit that can help set you apart: the diversity statement. As our global society becomes increasingly diverse, organizations are placing a premium on fostering inclusive environments. Consequently, a well-crafted diversity statement can play a pivotal role in your job application and interview process.

A diversity statement is a powerful personal essay that allows you to share your unique experiences and insights about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). More than just an add-on to your cover letter and resume, this statement can illuminate your commitments to DEI, highlight your understanding of the barriers in the current job market, and showcase how you can contribute to an equitable and diverse workplace.

Because including a diversity statement is not always required in an interview process, and is a relatively new way for applicants to showcase themselves, the guidelines for perfecting it aren’t so obvious. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you and asked some DEI experts to weigh in and give some tips and insights for creating the best diversity statement possible.

Crafting your diversity statement

Before delving into the specifics of writing a diversity statement, it’s crucial to understand a few fundamental considerations. A well-written diversity statement should clearly define your understanding of diversity and how it has shaped your personal and professional journey. It should offer concrete examples from your past roles or experiences where you’ve contributed to fostering diversity and inclusion. Moreover, it should delineate your future plans to further nurture DEI values in your career.

Clarify what you mean by diversity

You may or may not define your terms in the actual statement itself, but it should be clear what you mean by diversity and how it relates to you and your personal journey. What does diversity mean to you personally? How has the concept of DEI been incorporated into your personal or professional past?

Share relevant past experiences

Including specific ways in which you have helped a company develop or have grown yourself in a previous role or experience should be a main talking point in your diversity statement. This is a good way to avoid seeming as if you are generalizing, which might come across as disingenuous. Why are you committed to diversity? What kind of life experiences prompted your commitment?

Include plans for the future

Another way to be specific in your diversity statement is to explain how you plan to use past experiences to grow even further. This demonstrates not only an understanding of diversity in the workplace but a future commitment to learning and expanding both personally and professionally.

The benefits of creating a diversity statement

Renowned throughout education circles for its commitment to diversity, Shenendehowa School District in New York houses its own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. It’s focused on preserving equity and fostering diverse and inclusive environments where every student feels connected, ensuring the provision of an anti-bias and anti-racist education. Dr. Elizabeth Wood, the Assistant Superintendent of Shenendehowa Central School District, is considered a leader in her field when it comes to DEI in the workplace. She shares her insights on what applicants can include in their diversity statements to stand out in the interview process, as well as some tips and background on the importance of diversity statements in the hiring process.

Showcase your values concretely

Value alignment is more important than ever for job hunters across the US, and by including a diversity statement in your application, you can highlight your values from the get-go. It helps you show employers early on what’s important to you. “It reveals important information about the humanity, character, and commitment of the candidate,” Dr. Wood states. If you’re looking for a company that supports DEI initiatives and this is a non-negotiable for you, a diversity statement could be exactly what you need.

Set yourself apart from the competition

It’s no secret that today’s job market is fiercely competitive. Every single applicant is looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. Diversity statements can help you do just that. However, Dr. Wood recommends not relying solely on the statement to set yourself apart: “I look for service to DEI organizations or accomplishments listed on the resume that highlights diversity,” she explains. “Statements on the application or resume are important too if they indicate more than a trite or superficial commitment to DEI.”

Additionally, Dr. Wood says it’s important to create a statement that is relevant to the field in which you’re applying, and to proceed with care and attentiveness when it comes to diversity. “You can only do this if it’s sincere and doesn’t inappropriately stereotype a cultural group,” she shares.

Including a diversity statement in an application can be a great way for a potential candidate to stand out and showcase their commitment to DEI, by sharing both relevant past experience and future goals. It’s important for applicants to be honest, both about where they are coming from and how they wish to contribute.

The impact of a diversity statement

A compelling diversity statement has the potential to transform your job application from a simple document to a dynamic representation of your personal and professional commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a platform to not only relay your beliefs and experiences but also project your future vision and intentions of fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace environment. As we navigate through an increasingly diverse global society, your understanding and engagement with DEI principles can mark you as a visionary and empathetic leader in your field.

Remember, a diversity statement is not just a trendy add-on. Instead, it’s a powerful tool that can resonate with prospective employers, demonstrating your sincerity and dedication to building an inclusive world.

Key takeaways

  • Define diversity: Start by clearly defining what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you. Make it personal, sharing how these concepts have been part of your life journey and why they matter to you.
  • Highlight past experiences: Illustrate your commitment to DEI by sharing specific experiences where you have promoted diversity and inclusion, whether in previous roles, community service, or personal life.
  • Map the future: Show your commitment isn’t just rooted in the past. Share your plans for promoting DEI in the future, showcasing a proactive attitude towards continuing your growth and contribution in this field.
  • Align your values: Use your diversity statement as a platform to highlight your values. Show potential employers that you prioritize DEI and are seeking a workplace with similar commitments.
  • Stand out authentically: Make your diversity statement a standout feature of your application. However, ensure your commitment to DEI comes across as genuine and deep-rooted, not superficial or clichéd.
  • Respect cultural differences: In your efforts to display a commitment to DEI, be cautious not to stereotype or misrepresent cultural groups. Be respectful, understanding, and mindful of cultural sensitivities.

A well-crafted diversity statement can be a competitive edge in your job application, setting you apart as a forward-thinking, empathetic candidate who understands the value of DEI in the modern workplace. Use this tool wisely, and it may become the key that unlocks your next career opportunity.

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