Top takeaways from Monster's Pride and Work panel

What's the best way to get a mentor? Where can you find allies? How can you tell if a company is inclusive? Our panel answers these questions and more.

Top takeaways from Monster's Pride and Work panel

Find a company that honors your true self.

When you're looking for a job, the importance of cultural fit can't be overstated, especially if you're a member of a marginalized group. For Pride month, Monster rounded up a handful of diversity and inclusion (D&I) experts at leading companies to talk about how to best navigate the job search if you're a new grad and you identify as LGBTQ+. (You can watch the entire LGBTQ Pride and Work panel on YouTube.)

Our esteemed panelists include:

  • Brianna Boles (she/her), diversity and inclusion program manager at Adobe
  • Tom Bourdon (he/him), head of inclusion and diversity at Staples
  • Kay Martinez, M.A. (they/them), associate director of the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion—as well as a faculty member—for Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Institute of Health Professions
  • Jarvis Sam (he/him), senior director of diversity recruiting, global sourcing, and talent experience at Nike

“If you're looking for a job right now,” Bourdon says, “hopefully you’ll find a place where you can be your true, beautiful, diverse self, and a work environment that celebrates D&I and the LGBTQ+ community, and one that doesn't just tolerate or accept you for the differences that you bring to work, but instead actually says, ‘We want you, we need you because you're going to add incredible diversity to our team and so much value to our organization.’”

“Understand the significance of being true to yourself,” adds Sam. “Don't feel like you have to force yourself to retrofit your background, resume, or cover letter to fit a company, or even when you're interviewing. Rather, it should be holistic and deeply connected.”

To find out how to do just that, read on for our top 10 takeaways from Monster's LGBTQ Pride and Work panel.

1. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) spans all industries

When he was an employee in higher education institutions, prior to joining Staples, Bourdon says there are three real key elements to D&I: support, education, and advocacy. The work consists of creating different ways “people with shared identities and their allies can connect. It might be creating support groups or social groups; creating dedicated, physical safe spaces where people could gather; and facilitating various events and trainings.”

Bourdon says this type of work expands into all industries, not just higher ed, so the companies you apply to can and should be committed to D&I. “There's a key focus on creating welcoming environments where people can ideally bring their entire selves to work, feel comfortable, and be set up to thrive,” he says.

Granted, there are some differences between the work he did at colleges and universities and the work he currently does in the corporate world. “Now I get to spend a lot of my time helping companies look at data, such as how diverse are the job applicants or the people that we're hiring, or the customers that we're serving?” he says. “How diverse is leadership and who's being promoted internally?”

2. Your resume can help you stand out as a candidate

“As a recruiter, I often tell people I have reviewed nearly 25,000 resumes from candidates at various conferences and events to resume portals or online applications to employee referrals coming in for talent,” says Sam, who urges candidates to think of their resume as something much more than a static document. In fact, it should be tailored to each and every company to which you apply.

Furthermore, your resume is valuable real estate, so you need to make sure what you put on it gives you the most bang for your buck, so to speak. “While it's important to capture those core skills that make you qualified and applicable for the role,” Sam says, “companies are really interested in knowing the well-rounded nature of an individual.”

Here’s a tip: Skip the objective statement, which is unnecessary. Recruiters know you want to work as a [enter job title here] at the company, otherwise you wouldn’t have applied, right?

“Take that opportunity to use a couple of sentences, or perhaps even a paragraph, to reflect to the recruiter how your background and experience are actually aligned to the values or maximums of the company,” Sam says, “and what receiving that role would mean in terms of your value add or value creation that you would provide to the company.”

Want to give your resume an additional edge in the application process? “To show that you're deeply engaged with the company,” Sam advises, “use some of the rhetoric or lingo that [a company] utilizes to incite a focus on your summary.” So if you’re wondering whether to research a company like Nike before you apply, just do it. (See what we did there?)

3. Recruiters do, in fact, want to be contacted

Sam says about 100 people per day contact him with their resumes. If he thinks they’re a good fit for Nike or a previous place he’s worked—or if he knows a colleague is hiring for that very role—he’s sending those resumes to the appropriate people. "So I think it's an incredibly smart strategic play to reach out to individuals from companies,” he says.

“At the end of the day, there will be some people who will be gung-ho about it, who will be more proactive and super-excited to contact you and help position you throughout the process,” he says. “For those that don't reply, you haven't really lost anything. Rather, you've now expanded your network that much more." 

4. You can tell a lot about a company if you know what to look for

The more you pay attention during the hiring process, the more informed of a candidate you will be. And it starts with the application. “I can tell a lot about an organization by their forms and what language they're using,” says Martinez.

“For me as a trans person, giving my legal name right off the bat, giving legal sex markers, is not necessary,” they explain. “Also for undocumented folks, folks who don't have social security numbers—you don't need that in the candidate stage. That should be afterwards when you're hired. That's when you need my I-9, W-4, all that stuff.”

Another great indicator about a company’s culture and commitment to diversity is their website. Martinez calls out the following:

  • mission statements
  • the language used on the website
  • the presence of a D&I office or a head of D&I within the company
  • the presence of visual and racial diversity represented on the “About Us”

Granted, not all diversity is visible, Martinez explains, but the above can give you a good indication of where a company is at.

5. The interview can provide even further information

One of the simplest and most effective means of gauging a company’s inclusiveness is through its people. When you show up to an interview, do the people who introduce themselves to you say their name as well as their personal pronouns? Martinez noted that at the sign-in desk of some companies, visitor badges include not only your name, but also your personal pronouns.

Accessibility is another big marker. Are there ramps for people with disabilities? Is the building difficult to access or navigate? Are there gender-neutral bathrooms? Keep mental notes about all of these things.

“In the interview itself,” says Martinez, “I've definitely experienced microaggressions as a candidate. Folks say things, so I note that. It's a professional setting, so I still want to engage and see if I want this job, but I'm flagging that in my head, like, ‘Okay, this person just made a comment. I might have to work with this person. That’s something that I really want to think about. How is that going to impact my day to day?’ That has absolutely happened [to me].”

6. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are awesome

A company that offers ERGs understands and appreciates the power of community. Definitely see if their companies to which you’re applying have ERGs that support LGBTQ pride.

“Employee resource groups are affinity groups at work,” Martinez says. “Black organizations, LGBT organizations, or Latinx ones, groups for women, groups for veterans, you name it. Different companies are trying to build these spaces for the employees to build community and also work with their organization to meet their needs.”

Martinez explained that Xerox introduced ERGs back around the time of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “That's when we first saw mass demonstrations led by Black students demanding that they want Black studies, ethnic studies, and offices that were dedicated to multicultural affairs, which are like the grandfather of D&I,” they say. “These words have shifted over time: multicultural affairs, D&I, inclusive excellence, belonging. It all came from that era where people demanded change. And I think we're living through that moment right now. Organizations are scrambling to show what they are doing because employees are putting that pressure on organizations because of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that we're seeing across the country, saying, ‘What are we doing right now?’ It's really key that that is coming from employees and ERGs.”

7. Mentors can be a huge help to you throughout your career

It’s always a bonus if you can find someone to show you the ropes at your new job. “In the interview process, ask what mentorship looks like at the company,” Boles says, “as well as what their ERG or employee network programs look like.”

But she also emphasizes the importance of doing some heavy-duty self-reflection prior to seeking out a mentor once you’re hired. “Think about what your strengths are, what matters to you, and where you want to go in your career,” she says. “To be able to make the most out of a mentor relationship, it really comes down to the skills and the direction that you want to go in your career.”

Once you have an idea, look within the company for people who have created a career path for themselves that is similar to the one you have in mind for yourself, or look for people who have a particular skill you’d like to develop. You want to find someone whose path is aligned with yours, rather than just picking someone at random. Boles says a great place to find mentors is in ERGs or employee networks. Another great resource is the company’s intranet or online hub, where you can see who works for the company and in which roles.

Oh, and remember that your career path will very likely change over time. Be flexible. Be openminded.

8. D&I is everyone’s responsibility

Diversity benefits everyone, not just members of marginalized communities. It’s a team effort to get the ball rolling and keep it in motion.

“I think the biggest challenge is communicating that to your senior leaders and your CEO,” says Boles. “For most folks, it will take the highest levels of leadership to communicate it for folks to understand that it's a business priority…. then partnering with them on how to really integrate DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] into their practices so that it trickles down and really does become part of everybody's job.”

“When companies are doing things like implementing trainings or having different opportunities for you to learn more or to advocate, get involved,” urges Bourdon. “Your voice is important; you understanding these issues and how to support people with different identities is critical. When people email me or reach out to me, I listen and most often I say, ‘This is great. Let's figure out how together we can work at whatever this issue might be.’”

9. There is strength in numbers

Speaking up and advocating for yourself and others has its risks, Martinez points out. It is a privilege that not every person possess in equal amounts.

“I think identity is really important because when I say something and a white person says something, we say the exact same thing, it can be taken differently—and that's real,” they say. “We all can't be squeaky wheels because there are different consequences for us. The game is not fair for us, and we all have to recognize that and think about our identities in relationship to power and privilege.”

“It's irresponsible for us to say that everyone needs to speak out and call things out because there can be an adverse impact on you,” Martinez continues. “For the queer trans people of color, a lot of our strength comes in numbers. Safety comes in numbers.”

Among the most effective means of creating change in Martinez’s experience? “Especially for those of us who have the most marginalized or targeted identities, [change happens by] building coalitions with your peers, seeking and identifying allies that you can trust to work together,” they say.

In fact, a few days after this panel was held, on Monday, June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. 

10. Keep a detailed record of any grievances

If you feel you’ve been discriminated against or received inappropriate comments, it’s absolutely crucial to document the events. That means the date, time, location, people in attendance, and what happened. Don’t rely on your memory. Write it down in a private location, whether that’s a journal or Google doc or on your phone.  

“If you are in a position where you feel uncomfortable by something that is said or something that is done, I think a one-on-one conversation is a really great place to start with an individual, particularly under the construct of assuming positive intent,” says Sam. “Let's be real—there are some moments where you know it wasn't [positive intent]. Make sure that as a follow-up to those moments, document, document document. And I'm talking about a two-way communication—so if you have connected with somebody in a one-on-one verbal forum, then send them a note, reiterating some of the key points that came out of that discussion. That way it is at least documented.”

Afterwards, breathe. You might not have the privilege to straight-up quit a job you're unhappy with. There are bills to pay—that's a reality for many, many people. So take a step back to gather your thoughts and decide how to address the matter. Martinez suggests asking yourself, “Am I seeing a pattern here? Am I continuously not being valued? Is this something that can come up in my one-on-one in my performance review, something that I need to escalate up the chain to HR?” 

“There are other channels too," Martinez says. "You can seek outside legal counsel to advise you on how to proceed in a situation that you feel is truly unfair and unjust because it very well may be.”

Find a good fit

As you take your first steps into the workforce, it’s helps to keep your expectations in check. “There's no perfect organization out there,” says Martinez. “No one ever told me that, and I thought that this mythical, magical company existed, that I could just hop around and find the perfect place.”

What will help your experiences be more positive is making sure that you’re not alone on the journey. Want some help? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts from your favorite companies sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. LGBTQ pride isn't just one month during the year—it's a lifelong commitment to expressing your truth, so find a company that gets on board.