My chosen profession is growing. Companies posted 30% more jobs in diversity and inclusion on Glassdoor in 2019 than in 2018, according to Glassdoor economic research. So the question is, how do you get a job in D&I? Here’s how I did it.

At a young age, I interacted with people from different cultures. I studied journalism and education, and it was through these institutions that I started paying attention to who makes decisions. I lived abroad and became a parent and faced barriers. I learned how to bring my personal experiences into my career with me.

I wrote down my goals, obstacles and a timeline. Then I got busy in the following areas:

Serving the community 

I was on a board and a commission, which gave me an in-depth understanding of issues relating to equity. 

Personal branding

I wrote for Seattle Times Explore, developed a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn and made business cards. 

Relationship building 

I made Canadian, U.S. and international contacts and kept my relationships warm by reaching out frequently. 

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D&I work 

I interned at the Canadian Centre of Diversity and Inclusion and on other projects. I read books on D&I. 

Company research 

I looked up who was hiring in my city, read up on their goals and objectives and learned about their company culture.

Skills development 

I applied for a job training cohort and leadership development course and paid someone to update my resume.

Most of all, I used my superpower. As a writer, I leaned in on my communication skills to tell stories and develop content with a D&I lens. I’ve also seen people use their skills in tech, health care, education, politics and other areas to find an access point into D&I.

Even with all this planning, things didn’t work out as expected. I found a job opening that was perfect for me. It had everything but my name written on it. But I didn’t even get an interview.

“Sometimes we think we’re perfect for the job, and we’re not,” the recruiter told me. But I knew there was something blocking me and it wasn’t me. So I waited for the next opportunity to come my way.

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And it did.

I couldn’t have done it without the people who met me, mentored me, referred me and challenged me. 

Getting a job in D&I isn’t the answer to more inclusive workplaces. We need support, resources and companywide recognition of systemic issues to succeed. We need leadership buy-in. We also have a responsibility to share what we have learned with each other, and collaborate instead of compete. We must be key-makers instead of gatekeepers.

The future of D&I is that it will be infused through everything. It will be global, intersectional and focused on equity. And the only way it will center people at the margins is by hiring people at the margins. 

Diya Khanna, columnist for Seattle Times Explore
Diya Khanna, columnist for Seattle Times Explore