Underrepresented Groups

KU Professor talking with three students

The KU Engineering Career Center encourages all employers to adopt hiring and workplace practices that encourage and support members of underrepresented minorities. Here, we provide resources for both job seekers and employers to participate in a more diverse hiring process. 

What are the benefits of a diverse workforce? 

Your workforce represents who you are as a company. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an inclusive workplace can lead to: 

  • Higher employee retention 
  • Higher revenue 
  • Greater creativity 
  • Greater productivity 
  • A feeling of respect and value among employees 

Building a diverse workforce strategy should involve more than meeting company quotas or checking a box. Both companies and jobseekers can take steps to ensure diversity is a part of the company culture. 

Helpful Employment Links: 

Facts about Race/Color Discrimination (EEOC) 

Federal Protections against National Origin Discrimination 


Assess workplace culture 

Start by reviewing an employer’s website and becoming familiar with their publications and social media. Ask yourself: 

  • How does this company say it supports underrepresented minorities in the workplace?  
  • Does the company support specific programs for diverse employees? 
  • Do social media and news reports support what you see on their website? 
  • Do I see diversity represented in the photos and language they use in their marketing? 

Ask Questions 

Once you have done an online assessment, dig deeper by asking questions about the company: 

  • Seek out alumni on the KU Mentoring platform or LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview 
  • If you land an interview, ask the recruiter how they support diversity in the workplace, and if they have specific programs. 

Watch for red flags 

  • Your interviewer isn’t able to speak to company diversity practices 
  • You experiences micro-aggressions, such as comments or assumptions based on your physical appearance, dress, accent, name, etc. during your interview 
  • You feel uncomfortable 

Diverse Employers 

Top 50 Companies for Diversity 2020 (from DiversityInc)

America’s Best Employers for Diversity (from Forbes Magazine)

Career Topics: 

Feeling Seen, Heard, & Affirmed: Pursuing Professional Development Opportunities as a Person of Color (from NACE) 

The truth about racial wage gaps (African American Hires)

Helpful Links: 

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) 

Black Career Women’s Network blog 

National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)


African-American Career World 

Black EOE Journal 

Equal Opportunity Magazine 

Hispanic Career World 

Hispanic Engineer 

Minority Engineer 

US Black Engineer 


Best Practices for Employers 

Recruiting a diverse workforce goes beyond saying the right things in your mission and vision statements. Candidates want to see themselves reflected in your leadership, your workforce, and your recruitment activities. The following steps can help qualified candidates find you, and find themselves reflected in your workplace culture. 

  1. Be mindful of language. Using words like “culture” and “fit” may indicate to a candidate that you expect them to assimilate or give up parts of themselves in order to work there. This can be costly to your company as qualified candidates look elsewhere, or to the candidate if they sacrifice who they are to work for you. 
  2. Look at your leadership team. If there are few or no people of color or other diversity groups represented by your leadership, candidates may feel they will not have an equal opportunity for advancement there. 
  3. Look at your recruitment team. Many employers consider bringing recent graduates back to campus when recruiting for internship and early career roles who may be able to relate better to students. Thinking about diversity when you choose your representatives can have the same impact in attracting people of color to your booth. 
  4. Think about terminology. People express their identities in different ways. Avoid using blanket terms for all people in a diverse group (for instance Black or African American), use gender-neutral pronouns, and use person-first language. 
  5. Survey your environment. From the art on your walls to the people featured in your company brochures and on your website, a lack of diversity communicates your priorities when it comes to attracting a diverse workforce. 
  6. Review your company resources. Do your employee support programs meet the needs of diverse groups? Can prospective employees find information about those programs on your website or in your recruitment materials? 
  7.  Assess your company policies. Company dress codes dictating restrictions on certain hairstyles, piercings or clothing styles may actually be discriminatory and prevent you from attracting qualified candidates who belong to diversity groups.  
  8. Advertise open positions through diverse channels. There are a wide variety of job boards and media publications specifically intended for people of color to find employers with a reputation for diversity-friendly hiring practices.  
  9. Highlight your company’s diversity practices. Consider creating recruitment videos that highlight ways you address diversity in the workplace. Share information about internships and scholarships for underrepresented groups with campus DEI offices like IHAWKe Diversity and Women’s Programs in the School of Engineering. 
  10. Work together as a staff to create a welcoming environment. This goes beyond required training sessions. Make conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion, micro-aggressions, and implicit bias part of your company culture and commit to growth. Be prepared to talk about this work to job applicants. 
  11. Help overcome the digital divide. According to a 2018 study by the National Urban League, 10.7% of Black households did not have a computer and 21.4% did not have an internet connection. Provide students and new hires with the technology they need to do their work, especially if you are having them work remotely.  

Helpful Links: 

DiversityInc Best Practices 

The DiversityInc Top 50 Process 

Traditional diversity training doesn’t work. Why Not? And what does? (from Diversity Jobs) 

The characteristics of white supremacy culture (from Showing Up for Racial Justice) 

How to Think about “Implicit Bias” (from Scientific American) 

Let’s Talk About Racial Microaggressions in the Workplace (from Forbes) 


Diversity in the KU School of Engineering 

The University of Kansas School of Engineering is committed to serving our state, nation, and the world by increasing the number of diverse engineers, including women and underrepresented minorities, that can address and create solutions for the complex, multicultural, multidisciplinary challenges that exist in today’s global society.  

The Diversity and Women’s Programs department is home to the IHAWKe and KUEST programs. IHAWKe (Indigenous, Hispanic, African American, Women, KU engineering) is an academic support program for college students that is designed to help students connect with others, change the world, and conquer their classes. The KUEST (KU Engineering, Science, and Technology) program is geared toward engaging underrepresented minority and female middle and high school level students with engineering, including students from low-income and first generation families. See the links below for more information on connecting with diversity programs in the KU School of Engineering.

Helpful Links: 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: KU School of Engineering 

Engineering Multicultural/Diversity Student Groups 

KU Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging