Hiring a D&I Lead — questions to ask at interview
Many companies are seeking to hire Diversity and Inclusion Leads as a response to what has been revealed to them through the Black Lives Matter uprisings over the last 6 weeks and their confrontation with the absence of their action. If your company is going down this route, we offer some questions that could feature within the interview process.
First off though, it’s worth saying that the very act of creating a D&I Lead where there was none does not in and of itself do anything. It is not absolution, an ointment, redemption or a remedy for times gone past. It doesn’t even mean that the future is bright. Further, in our experience it’s generally unreasonable to have just one person solely responsible for this endeavour. If you’re a small organisation, all the more reason that building equity into the organisation should be everyone’s priority, and if you’re a large organisation, a team will be necessary by definition to develop the path so that it is also everyone’s priority. In the latter context, we can only see how one person may be sufficient if there are plans to build out a team, or their role is to embed the practices of inclusion and equity into the wider organisation within a certain period and they are spearheading that process.
What are some of the conditions that set up a role like this to possibly / actually make a difference? A few thoughts include, though this isn’t an exhaustive list, that the role:
- Reports into the executive level of the company
- Has dedicated budget and resource
- Has an explicit mandate and authorisation to move to action
- Has a team of people and is working in coalition with them and other stakeholders in the first instance
Then we need the person in role to actually have the necessary skills and capacities to drive change. While passion is essential for this role — as it is for many others in an organisation — be weary of passion alone. Any ‘expertise’ (and what this involves is of course a site of contention) in subject matter is often downplayed in D&I roles, instead they often over-index for project management skills and enthusiasm in general.
As such, we propose a series of questions that we recommend you ask in the interview alongside your wider competency and values/behaviour questions to unearth the schema your potential future D&I Lead uses in thinking and doing when it comes to inclusion work.
Question 1: Please explain to us how you conceive of and understand a system of oppression to operate?
Question 2: Can you share with us some of the ideas at the root of anti-semitism? Now can you share with us some of the ideas at the root of cissexism?
Question 3: We would like to offer you a scenario. You’re speaking to a colleague in our Singapore office about our thinking and action when it comes to challenging anti-black racism. Your colleague says that they really do not think that anti-black racism — because it’s really an American issue, given that’s where the epicentre of the recent uprisings was— is relevant to people in South East Asia. They propose that perhaps if there are any workshops rolled out on the issue, that other more salient issues for the region could be the focus instead.
How would you respond?
Question 4: In reflecting on a generic or traditional recruitment process what are some of the ways that we can build equity into it?
Question 5: Please share with us a key text related to inclusion equity and/or justice that has shaped your thinking and how it’s informed your thinking too?
Question 7: We are thinking about rolling out mandatory 60 mins unconscious bias training for the whole company. What are some of the reasons why we shouldn’t do this?