The decisions we make in tech policy need to take into account potential adverse impacts on marginalized populations, including communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community, women, immigrant communities, and other historically disenfranchised groups. Unfortunately, those voices are neither adequately represented nor elevated in these policy debates. As two women of color, we found the lack of diversity in this space during our respective fellowships alarming. (Gabrielle was a law fellow at the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law and Alisa was the Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge). We believe that if we truly want to create tech policies that will empower these communities, the parties that advocate on their behalf must also be diverse as well. This guidebook serves as a brief introduction on the methods for how to advertise to underrepresented candidates, how to create relationships and opportunities for diverse candidates, and how to retain employees from diverse backgrounds. Although created with a focus on tech policy organizations, the tools are applicable to all workplaces.

Advertising with an Emphasis on Underrepresented Candidates

Advertising is often the first step in the hiring process. It is vital to cast a wide net to have a diverse pool of applicants. Organizations will want to examine how they advertise and how that has impacted their candidate pool in the past. In addition to where organizations advertise, Upturn’s recent report on algorithms in the hiring process demonstrated how organizations advertise may also impact the diversity of the applicant pool. The report revealed that the words employers use to advertise may dissuade some candidates from applying.1

Examples of Best Practices for Advertising:

  • Advertise to diverse student organizations.
    • Affinity law student organizations.
      • Example: National Black Law Students Association. 
    • Diverse engineering student organizations.
      • Example: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
    • Diverse interest groups within communications associations geared towards academics.
      • Example: Black Caucus interest group of the National Communication Association.
    • Note: There are often national and regional chapters in addition to the local chapters of these organizations.
  • Advertise through diverse outlets, including newsletters, blogs, and websites with a diverse audience.
  • Speak and participate in events at schools including HBCUs or HSIs.
  • Advertise through a school's diversity newsletter or program.
  • Use resources like Textio Hire to edit the wording of job descriptions.2

Creating Relationships and Opportunities for Diverse Candidates

Diverse applicants often rely on the relationships established during their time in school or internships to learn about employment opportunities with various organizations. This replaces other informal networks such as family connections. Students may feel more inclined to apply to a job if they know someone who currently works at or has previously worked at that organization. Additionally, if an individual sees someone like them at an organization, this may provide an indication that the culture is healthy for underrepresented employees.

  • Underrepresented applicants often lean on professors, upperclassmen, alumni, and mentors to navigate employment. 
  • Applicants create these relationships through classes, student organizations, mentorship programs, bar associations, events, internships, and jobs.
  • The best case scenario is to empower employees and interns to recruit at their alma mater or current school. The next best scenario is to recruit through mentorship and relationships with previous educational instructors. It is possible to build these networks if they do not currently exist; however, it requires more time and intention.
  • The goal is to replicate informal referrals and inroads that exist for majority applicants.


  • Incentivize staff within organizations to effectively mentor early-career staffers, fellows, or interns.
    • Create a budget for staff to engage in mentoring. For example, the budget can allow full-time staffers to seek reimbursement when taking current students or potential future applicants to coffee. 

  • Maintain visibility in spaces frequented by underrepresented students/applicants.

    • Speak and participate in events at schools including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

      • Volunteer to participate in job talks, to speak in seminars, and to coordinate an event such as “Careers in Tech Policy.”

      • Coordinate and host events for students interested in tech policy at your organization’s office.

      • Participate in school career fairs for students seeking internships and fellowships.

  • Create preliminary relationships with individuals who can recommend applicants.

    • Create relationships with career advisors, professors, etc.

    • Conduct outreach to bar associations and partner with them for events.

  • Engage with students and applicants.

    • Advertise events with schools, bar associations, and student organizations.

    • Provide free and discounted admission to events for students and recent graduates.

  • Create more short-term positions with reasonable pay for that geographic location.

    • Offer more paid internships.

    • Offer part-time internships during the semester.

    • If your organization is unable to pay interns, require interns receive class credit for internships.

  • Create a single process for recruiting and hiring to ensure the system is fair to those who lack contacts within the organization.

  • Take into account all of the applicant's experiences (personal and professional) that will be useful for successfully holding a position within that organization.

  • Demonstrate organizational and individual sensitivity to diversity.

    • Interface with diverse populations.

    • Invite diverse speakers to panels hosted by your organization.

    • Implement practices to retain diverse staff.

Retaining Employees from Diverse Backgrounds through Inclusive Work Environments

As important as it is to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds, it is also important to retain diverse talent. There are various reasons why candidates may choose to leave a workplace and this may include accidental or purposeful exclusion from projects, the lack of understanding from organizational staff about the ways people from diverse backgrounds communicate, and/or the lack of appreciation for project ideas or opinions from employees from diverse communities. Unhealthy teams and workplaces have the ability to drive out employees. It is important to understand the reasons why a workplace may not be seen as welcoming to certain communities. It is also necessary for affirmative steps and changes to be implemented to ensure that spaces allow all to learn, grow, and work together as a cohesive unit.

Tips for Building an Inclusive Work Environment:

  • Avoid making assumptions about someone else’s background (socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status).
    • Example: It is important not to make popular culture references based on the assumption of an individual’s background. 
  • Create spaces and support for underrepresented employees to lead and innovate.
    • Example: Acknowledge that employees may employ new or amended processes that reflect their background and lived experiences. 
  • Inquire about the different needs underrepresented employees may have. 
    • Example: An employer can provide flexible work hours for employees who are caring for children or family members and employees living with disabilities.
  • Create affinity groups for employees to connect with other underrepresented people across internal or cross-organizational cohorts.
  • Routinely engage in implicit bias and cultural competency training tailored for your workplace and implement practices to combat implicit bias and sensitivity.
  • Implement proactive mentoring for underrepresented employees to ensure they are receiving the support needed to thrive in an organization.
  • Encourage organizational leaders and colleagues to understand that underrepresented employees were not hired to solve any workplace diversity problems.
    • Example: Unless an employee of color articulates their passion for racial or social justice, they should not be asked to serve as the sole individual to speak on behalf of communities of color.  
  • Create and internally publicize clear and effective human resources channels that do not report to that employee’s supervisor.
    • Provide a way for employees to share microaggressions and concerns they may have without fear of retaliation.
    • Provide strong and enforced anti-retaliation policies.
  • Create space to center different cultures and ways of life.
    • Invite diverse speakers to events hosted by the organization.

Suggestions and Additional Resources

Creating Inclusive Workspaces

  • Creating teams that focus on facilitating integration and encouraging cross-cultural conversation, both in organizations and in coalitions.
    • “Happiness committee” for conversations.
      • One organization has a board where members of their staff can write a variety of topics. This may include favorite songs written by an LGBTQ+ artist for Pride Month.
    • “Welcome committee” for integration.
  • Making spaces to intentionally address equity on things outside of work.
    • A stepped down book club to study multiracial text.
    • Trusted space for feedback.
    • Dedicating resources for those creating these spaces and facilitating conversations.
    • Affinity groups where staff members from similar backgrounds or who care about the issues of affinity groups can have open and honest conversations about what they are facing in the workplace. 

Necessary Structural Changes

  • More paid family leave (for parents).
  • Transparent honorarium schedules for speakers.
  • Conditioning acceptance of speaking engagements on the diverse makeup of the panel/event.
  • Evaluating what are Preferences, Traditions, or Requirements.3
    • Preference: The way an organization likes to do something.
      • I’d prefer having a lawyer for this position.
    • Tradition: The way an organization has always done something. 
      • We’ve only hired lawyers for this position.
    • Requirement: An organization does something based on necessity or external constraints.
      • This position will be filing motions in court and therefore must be a lawyer.
  • Adding equity items to organization and coalition meetings.
    • “Tip of the Hat/ Wag of the Finger”- Recurring meeting agenda item where attendees have the opportunity to acknowledge when there was a positive action taken in relation to inclusivity/diversity. Members of an organization should also be able to express grievances as they relate to this topic as well.

Needed Resources

  • More fellowships to create relationships with new candidates.
  • Sensitivity training similar to the "Race Forward" conference.
    • Groups should specifically ask foundations for money to support such training.

About the Authors

Gabrielle Rejouis is an Associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. She joined as a Law Fellow in 2018 after receiving her J.D. from Georgetown Law in 2018 with a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies. She co-organized the Color of Surveillance: Monitoring Poor and Working People conference, a conference focused on the historic and modern surveillance of these communities and their responses. Gabrielle’s research focuses on commercial data practices and the future of work. During law school, she interned at the Federal Communications Commission in the Media Bureau. Gabrielle has a B.A. in history from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she was an Albert Dorman Honors Scholar.

Alisa Valentin co-authored this guidebook while serving as the Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge where her portfolio included broadband access, data privacy, and artificial intelligence. She now serves as the Special Advisor to FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. Alisa advises the Commissioner on internet inequality matters as they relate to rural communities, low-income communities, and other marginalized groups. Her policy portfolio also includes future of work. She has also served as a legislative fellow in the office of Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) and an intern in FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn's office. Alisa holds a Ph.D. in Communications, Culture, and Media Studies from Howard University, a Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida.