Diversity’s Revolving Door: How to Engage & Retain Diverse Talent

When it comes to workplace diversity, attracting and recruiting diverse talent is often the primary focus. But what actually happens once diverse employees are hired? Based on the data, most organizations are driving their diverse talent right back out the door.   

On November 7, Advent Talent Group hosted the seminar, Diversity’s Revolving Door: How to Engage & Retain Diverse Employees for HR and Organizational leaders in the Twin CitiesDirector of Culture & Talent for the Minneapolis Foundation, Milpha Blamo, shared her time and expertise during the seminar. 

The seminar focused on three main steps to improving diversity retention:

1. Create a pathway for diverse talent 
2. Prepare for success
3. Engage and support diverse employees  

Create a Pathway for Diverse Talent 

For an organization to make real progress with both diversity and inclusion, it must have a strong recruiting and retention program in place for diverse talent. In her presentation, Blamo made several recommendations for improving diversity recruitment, using the process to, “create a clear pathway to your organization for diverse candidates.” 

Begin with an audit of your current process, from job postings through the interview and selection process, ensuring that each touchpoint is set up to welcome and receive diverse talent.  

Job Postings

Some examples of areas to improve in the posting process include:  

  • Remove bias from job postings, such as unnecessary requirementsConsider carefully which skills need to be in place on day one and which can be learned on the job.   
  • Highlight compensation and fringe benefits. Knowing this information provides a real incentive to apply.  
  • Include a contact number and email address for questions about the opening.  
  • Expand your posting network beyond paid sites. Create local and national networks with affinity groups, influential career professionals and community leaders 

Hiring leaders should, “be intentional and authentic about networking,” said Blamo. Attend events, connect with diverse leaders in your community, and get involved with groups providing pathways for diverse candidates. 

Interview & Selection 

Organizations can improve their interview and selection process by asking diverse employees to participate. Whenever possible, create a selection panel per opening that includes diverse employees who sit in on interviews and contribute to post-interview evaluations and discussions about the candidates.  

Once hiring leaders have begun taking steps toward creating a clear pathway for diverse talent in their organizations, they can start assessing their current environment and preparing staff for change. Blamo says this period often creates some “discomfort” among staff at first but it’s important that people are well-prepared for the changes ahead.   

Prepare for Success  

In order to determine next steps, organizations should first conduct an honest assessment of their current culture and readiness. As with most system-wide changes, the key to success is to first assess and prepare. There will be both resistance and support from all levels of your organization, but this is a necessary part of change. According to Blamo, “People need to get uncomfortable in order to bring about change.”  

Internal Assessments & Training  

Several assessment tools are available to assist with measuring an organization’s intercultural competence. Tools such as these may help guide training and support needs and assist in determining the effectiveness of your efforts for improvement. One useful assessment for determining a baseline measurement for your team ithe Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). 

After you have evaluated your team’s current intercultural competence, you can begin creating a plan for training and development. 

Some examples of common training topics include: 

  • Equity 
  • Inclusion 
  • Bias/Unconscious Bias 
  • Privilege 
  • Micro & Macro Aggressions 

In conjunction with assessing current culture and providing training opportunities for staff, HR & Organizational leaders should schedule a review of their internal communication (i.e. employee handbooks, memos, mission statements) as well as their physical environment (signage) for inclusive language.  

Taking these steps will help preparyour current staff and environment to receive and retain diverse employees.  

Engage & Support Diverse Employees 

Most new hires evaluate their decision to join an organization for at least six monthsHowever, diverse employees face additional barriers to inclusion and support at work and therefore, are at a higher risk for attrition.  

Consider, for example, the constant pressure that members of minority groups feel to “check” their behaviors and communication at work to avoid reinforcing common cultural stereotypes. When researching the emotional impact of being a minority at work for their published workWorking IdentityMitu Gulati and Devon Carbado learned that this can take a considerable emotional toll and contribute to turnover. 

Also, according to the Kapor Center’s 2017 Tech Leavers Study, underrepresented men and women of color experienced stereotyping at twice the rate of White and Asian men and women; 30% of underrepresented women of color were passed over for promotion. 

That same study showed that experiencing and observing unfairness was a significant predictor of leaving and that the more bullying that is experienced, the shorter the length of time that employees remained at their company. 

In her presentation, Blamo provided several specific strategies and programs to implement thelp mitigate the risk of turnover within the first six months of hire. The following measures have been shown to improve the retention of diverse employees when implemented during the first 30 days, 60 days, and beyond  

In the first 30 days of hire:  

  • Focus on a welcoming and positive onboarding process that includes a “buddy system”.  
  • Immediately introduce the new hire to their “buddy/welcome partner,” provide immediate contact with their work team, and introduce them to their go-to person for questions. 
  • Provide immediate contact with other diverse staff as well as access to affinity or employee resource groups (ERGs).   

In the first 60 days of hire:  

  • Checkin often around culture, inclusion, and work-related tasks.  
  • Identify additional needs around inclusion and support.  
  • Follow-up on Affinity Group/ERG membership 
  • Be an ally and available to navigate politics  

Ongoing:  

  • Continue conversations around career development and trajectory at your organization.
  • Conducting “stay interviews” in the 4th and 8th months may be helpful.  
  • Work with staff to identify a Sponsor. Note that a sponsor differs slightly from a mentor, as a sponsor is expected to advocate for the employee as needed.  
  • Identify opportunities with high visibility and/or leadership (depending on comfort level). This can include committee/workgroup involvement, leading a meeting or initiative, event leadership and more.  
  • Make introductionshelp employee network within the organization, sector, and community with diverse and ally leaders.

In Conclusion 

The disproportionate amount of attention and resources directed at diversity recruitment versus employee retention means that many companies – including those with solid diversity recruitment programs – are struggling to retain the very employees they are working so hard to attract. Organizations can no longer ignore the facts. For diversity programs to make a real impact, organizations must make inclusion and retention a top priority.  

The road to a diverse and inclusive workplace does not end when diverse talent is hired; organizations must have a plan for creating a workplace where those individuals are able to do their best work. Organizations can create a pathway to leadership for diverse employees through evaluating and modifying their current practices, creating a culture of inclusion, and engaging and supporting diverse talent throughout their careers.  

About Advent Talent Group

Advent Talent Group is a super-powered staffing and consultancy agency specializing in Creative & Marketing, Office Support, and Human Resources. We are a small, purpose-driven agency in Minneapolis who follows four guiding principles:

  1. Make a difference
  2. Save the day
  3. Have fun
  4. Embrace change

Each year, Advent provides support to a variety of non-profit partners through our award-winning giving program, Advent Cares. Advent is the two-time recipient of American Staffing Assoication’s national Care Award in 2018 and 2019 and recipient of the 2019 Keystone Honored Company award.

About the ADVENTure Series Programming

Advent Talent Group’s ADVENTure series programming includes a variety of complimentary educational and social events for Twin Cities leaders in HR and Hiring, Marketing and Creative, and Organizational Development.

On a scale of five, attendees give our events an average rating of 4.8 on topic, speakers, and the quality of the information provided.

Advent Talent Group is recognized by SHRM as a re-certification provider for the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP.

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