As a group that’s often overlooked, midlifers can empathise with other groups who face similar challenges. Plus, with an extensive career already behind them, they have a firm grasp of how workforces tend to operate.This experience can make them the perfect candidate for a job within the diversity, equity and inclusion sector.
But, while this may be true, is making this career change the right step for you?
In this article, we explain what diversity, equity and inclusion is, why you should consider a career in the DEI sector and how you can prepare for a career transition.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Explained
Before we delve into what a career in DEI looks like, let’s go into more detail about what the three elements mean:
1. Diversity: The presence of different backgrounds and origins, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.
2. Equity: The process of providing fair and equal opportunities based on people’s individual needs. This also means recognising that not all employees have the same opportunities, and taking the time to address these imbalances.
3. Inclusion: The practice of making people feel a sense of belonging at work. Every worker should feel comfortable, valued and accepted.
By combining these three components, organisations can help people from any background feel welcome and included within the workforce.
How DEI Benefits the Workplace
Diversity, equity and inclusion policies aren't just about making organisations feel good – they’re also key to business success.
For example, executive teams that are in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to have an above-average profit than those in the bottom quartile. When it comes to ethnic and cultural diversity, this number rises to 36%.
Other benefits of DEI initiatives include:
- Increased employee engagement and productivity.
- A more extensive talent pool.
- Higher employee morale.
- Reduced turnover rates and higher retention rates.
- A more innovative culture.
- Improved customer service satisfaction levels.
Why Should I Consider a Career in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
With businesses waking up to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, job roles within this industry are becoming increasingly prevalent.
In fact, a recent study by LinkedIn found that the number of DEI roles has increased by 67% in the previous five years. The UK is actually employing more DEI roles than average, with almost twice as many workers in this sector as any other country in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Still not sure about how you fit into this? It all comes down to who is being hired for these roles; 77% of all new D&I roles are either senior or director positions, which means that companies are looking for experienced practitioners.
This puts people over 50 at a massive advantage. With years of experience under your belt already, you’re a perfect candidate for a more senior role in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. And of course, age discrimination is a key item on many employer's agendas.
Another reason to work for a business that’s passionate about DEI? You’re much less likely to feel like an outsider. Many midlifers start to feel under-appreciated later on in their career, but with an employer passionate about including everyone, you can continue to flourish as your authentic self.
Education and Training for DEI Roles
Formally, there are no requirements for a diversity, equity and inclusion job. However, an employer may want to see a degree in a relevant subject or some evidence of experience within the sector.
If you don’t have any of this experience, fear not. There are several routes you can take to get your foot in the door.
For one, you can look at gaining a formal certification, such as those offered by the CIPD. By doing this you'll also be demonstrating your passion for diversity and inclusion, which will stand you in good stead.
It’s also worth searching on job listings and looking at what other diversity, equity and inclusion jobs are looking for from their candidates. Some common job titles to keep an eye out for include:
- Inclusion and Diversity Advisor.
- Inclusion and Diversity Specialist.
- Inclusion and Diversity Manager.
- Head of Inclusion and Diversity.
- Director of Inclusion and Diversity.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Co-ordinator.
However, job roles in the DEI industry will have a lot of overlap, no matter what their seniority level is. According to the CIPD, common job responsibilities of an inclusion and diversity (or I&D) specialists include:
- Providing analysis and expert advice on diversity.
- Diversity assessments of wider organisational practices and processes.
- Creating diversity networks to ensure all groups have a voice in the organisation.
- Encouraging positive action interventions to support under‐represented groups.
- Coaching and managers and employees on diversity.
- Creating diversity analytics to understand and track performance in the organisation, including legislative requirements.
- Celebrating diversity through organised events and awareness sessions.
Once you get an idea of the common job requirements, you can see if you have any valid transferable skills that will be helpful in your application. It’s also worth noting that experience within local government and in voluntary, faith and community sectors will also be helpful in securing a DEI job.
For more training opportunities, have a look at our free online training courses which are accredited by the CPD. You can also check out this article on retraining at 50 for more advice on how to best prepare for a career change.
Crafting a Compelling Application for DEI Roles
So, you have adequate experience and training for a job in diversity, equity and inclusion – but how can you make your application stand out?
As with any job application, it’s important that you tailor your CV and cover letter to the company, description and responsibilities. Use language that demonstrates industry knowledge, and be sure to link to any relevant experience that you have.
For more advice on how to brush up your CV and cover letter, we have plenty of other resources to help you:
- How to write a cover letter that stands out
- How to write a CV
- Eight achievements to include on your CV
- How to write a CV for today’s workplace when you’re over 50
What to Expect From the Job Interview
If you’re feeling particularly anxious about being interviewed, then you’re not alone. Being a midlifer, it’s possible that you’re a bit out of practice when it comes to being interviewed, so it’s worth taking some time to refamiliarise yourself.
The easiest way to do this is by having a few mock interviews where you can consider what questions you may be asked. Mock interviews also allow you to prepare yourself for questions you may not expect, and practise thinking about answers on the spot. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
But you should also avoid overthinking your answers. If it sounds like you’re memorising a script, it can make you sound detached and emotionless. Plus, if you get a question you’re not expecting, it can throw you off and you will struggle to think on the spot.
Instead, have some flashcards with the key points that you want to cover off in your interview. It’s worth remembering the rule of three, which is:
1. What three things do you want the interviewer to remember about you?
2. What three things are you most proud of in your life, and why?
3. What three extra things would you be looking for if you were interviewing someone else for this role?
For more tips on preparing for an interview, check out our article on job interview skills for the over-50s.
Dealing With Ageism in Your Interview
A final thing to note is that the interviewer may be a lot younger than you. Whether they’re aware of it or not, this age gap may cause the employer to be prejudiced about your ability to take on this role.
Though ageism is prohibited by the Equality Act, it unfortunately remains to be quite common during the recruitment process. But, you shouldn’t let this get to you – some tips to keep in mind during your interview include:
- Remain positive: If you get an unexpected ageist comment, don’t let it get to you. Try to brush it off (even though this can be hard) and redivert the conversation back to the job – and the value of your experience.
- Demonstrate your flexibility: Show examples of how you’re still building up your skill set and are still adaptable, rather than being “stuck in your ways”.
- Show your tech skills: A question about your ability to use current technology may come up, so make sure you illustrate an ease in using these tools. If you need to brush up on your skills, there are plenty of free resources available online, such as on Age UK.
- Iterate the benefits of a multigenerational team: Having a workforce that includes people of all ages allows different generations to play to their strengths, leading to more productivity and innovation. Make sure you communicate with your interviewer how your age and perspective can actually play as a strength – rather than a weakness that they need to accommodate.
Extra Resources to Help You Find Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Jobs
Ready for a new diversity, equity and inclusion job? Here are some resources to get you started: