5 Key Qualities of Inclusive Employees

December 23, 2020

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Opinions expressed by Businessman The contributors are their own.


Hiring diverse and inclusive talent is not as easy as you think. As a diversity consultant with over a decade of experience, I have hired my fair share of staff. I have hired assistants, managers, HR professionals, graphic designers and more.

But sometimes hiring diverse candidates can be like running a test. You want to hire more women, people of color, people with disabilities and beyond, but you can walk a thin line between tokens and praise.

While a workforce with good demographic representation is essential, it is equally important for those with an organization who already value diversity and inclusion.

The work of inclusion begins at the individual level. Institutions are made up of people. People are involved in policies, processes, practices, systems and ultimately organizations shaping culture.

If you want an inclusive work environment where everyone feels familiar, then hire people who value inclusion in work and behavior.

Otherwise, you risk losing talent by having a problematic company culture and hiring candidates who were not a great choice to retain the value of inclusion.

Over the years of consulting and hiring various candidates, I have found five outstanding qualities that reflect inclusiveness, diversity and equity at its core.

These key qualities give rise to candidates who will not only succeed in an increasingly diverse workplace, but also those who have a solid moral compass and voice.

Here are five qualities you should look for in new work – from the perspective of a diversity expert.

The candidates who spoke fiercely

In my experience, candidates who negotiate their terms and salary with strength and perseverance make powerful new hires.

Candidates who negotiate their salary and conditions are showing you their qualifications. These candidates have a high level of trust and can make a huge impact in your company if they persist for long.

In other words, they are leaders in making. Here’s how I know.

In 2020, my consulting business has grown. To keep up with the demand, I decided to appoint a new manager. I fought him for various reasons to join my team, but the one that stood out the most was his skill in the negotiation process.

This candidate fulfilled his qualification, price increase, specialties and salary requirements. She was firm, open and direct about her needs. And, I was immediately impressed.

In a world where women often ask for less time than they deserve to negotiate and the process of negotiation is intimidating, a female candidate has to breathe fresh air to ask for her fair share and eventually get it.

As a diversity expert, I value hiring candidates who know their worth. They are less likely to conform to the dominant culture (especially if it is oppressive or undermines their value) and will stand confident in their unique propositions, skills and authenticity.

This is the type of candidate who has the confidence and vision to take your company to great places in the long run.

related: How to change concrete drive in a world where unequal pay is still normal

Candidates who are self aware

When I think about hiring new employees, one important quality I see is their innate sense of awareness. In the interview process, I ask myself:

  • How aware is this candidate of their presence in the workplace?
  • Do they know how much space they take or leave in meetings and other company functions?

These may seem like trivial questions, but you would be amazed at how many people show up to do interviews with an air of self-awareness, but join the team with the lack of it.

Self-conscious candidates pay attention to their personal privilege and standing in the company, and use it to help reduce bias in the workplace.

For example, if a candidate knows they are a white male in a male-dominated work culture, when asked about their personal experiences with diversity, they can share scenarios where they have seen female colleagues in meetings First allowed to speak or encouraged people of color. To play a leadership role on special projects.

In short, a self-conscious candidate may exercise more compassion, restraint, empathy, and encouragement for female, minority peers in the company.

Without self-awareness, unrestrained prejudices and privileges can have a huge impact on your company’s inclusive culture and ultimately scare away diverse and more culturally competent candidates in the future.

Make hiring a self-conscious candidate a top priority.

Candidates who choose to be courageous

The act of courage cannot be understood in the workplace. When I am hiring, I ask the interview strategic questions that demonstrate how a candidate can comfortably choose courage.

For example, I ask a candidate questions such as:

  • Name the time when you practiced courageous communication in the workplace?
  • When was the last time you shared an inexperienced experience in the office?

These strategic questions enable me to understand whether this candidate can choose the path that is right on the path that is normal or safe.

This is important because unconscious bias occurs in the workplace and if one does not feel courageous enough to speak outside, it persists.

It is important to notice employees when employees of color, women and other minorities are behaving inappropriately in the workplace.

You want to appoint candidates who will respectfully and briefly inform the management of disparities. Without daring voices in the workplace, companies like yours can allow unconscious creatures to run furiously and never notice.

The long-term outcome is a work culture that feels uncomfortable, disproportionate and inconvenient for minorities, people of color and other groups.

Courage is a big part of engaging and hiring candidates who embrace this value that will add tremendously to your company’s DEI efforts.

related: How do you promote your workplace culture?

The cultures that are candidates do not fit the culture

One major mistake companies make is to “fit” candidates in advance. By being fit I mean candidates who emulate the current attitude, personality or identity of other people in the company.

The danger of hiring for a culture fit is that you risk losing various voices and ideas that give your company a competitive edge.

That is why hiring culture aids is so important for DEI work. A culture addition is one that provides a missing puzzle piece in your company culture. They add a unique voice, new ideas, solutions and angles to your company’s most complex problems.

But, let’s not confuse culture, diversity combines with quotas. We do not want you to add more women and people of color just because they are missing in your company’s roster.

A culture addition goes beyond identity, and becomes someone who offers a unique cultural perspective that can promote progress, inclusion and growth in your company.

When you understand who will add a good culture, do a deeper analysis on what your company values. Ask yourself:

  • What does this candidate lack in knowledge and experience that can benefit our organizational processes and offerings?
  • Can this employee challenge our way of thinking and suggest improvements in how we work?
  • Does this candidate represent a voice or point of view for our customers that we are missing?

Once you recognize that a potential candidate can actually deliver something unique and necessary in your organization, you will reap the benefits of hiring a culture add.

Candidates who demonstrate genuine curiosity

Curiosity and willingness to learn are not qualities that everyone possesses. Many candidates are ready to join your team with existing knowledge, but later become unfit or difficult to develop.

One of the things I look for when taking on new consultancy clients is how does this client happen? How eager is this customer to learn and grow? If the answer is, this customer wants to do something for them without much effort, it is a red-flag.

You should apply the same mindset to your new jobs. Curious and sociable candidates must learn diversity and inclusion and join as strengths with opportunities to learn and develop.

People who are genuinely curious are not afraid to make a mistake and see what sticks. These candidates offer new, revolutionary ideas in meetings, increase concern for their leadership team, and encourage cultural competence in the workplace.

These candidates can expand your network and seek diversity of thought as a way to practice effective collaboration.

Candidates who are authentic and curious come from a place of positive intention, a genuine interest to listen, to know, to understand and to lead.

These are candidates who will develop and support a positive company culture that is diverse and equitable.

related: 4 ways to generate inclusiveness and compassion in the workplace

I am happy to say that this year I have hired some employees who have demonstrated these five core qualities.

My new hire is all-on-deck and supports the growth, expansion, thought-leadership and growth of my consultancy.

These new works have taught me long ago because they adopt the natural qualities of illustrious leaders.

Your company can also benefit from diverse and inclusive fares. And it all starts with these 5 qualities.

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