5 Strategies for Retaining a Diverse Workforce
In 2013, Harvard Business Review found that organizations with two-dimensional diversity—what they categorized as both inherent and acquired diversity—“are 45% likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.”
Based on this study and many others like it, it’s clear that diversity is not only intuitively significant but it has a physical effect on your business’ bottom line.
The issue so many companies face isn’t how to create a diverse workforce; the challenge is how to retain a diverse workforce. Here are 5 strategies to retain a diverse workforce and plug the gap in employee turnover.
1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Part of embracing diversity requires organizations to not only accept racial, ethnic, and religious differences but to also support employees with more “acquired” diversity, such as parenthood or caring for an elderly parent.
In a study cited in a 2014 New York Times Article, “they found that of nonworking adults ages 25 to 54 in the United States, 61 percent of women said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working, compared with 37 percent of men. Of women who identify as homemakers and have not looked for a job in the last year, nearly three-quarters said they would consider going back if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home.”
Retaining a diverse workforce requires organization leadership to rethink the way employees are permitted to work and to adjust how employee contributions are evaluated.
2. Make Diversity a Part of Corporate Culture
First, diversity needs to be seen at all levels of an organization. Second, while there may not be training on how to retain a diverse workforce, there is problem-solving courses on how to engage individuals, determine what they need, and help them create solutions. When diversity is part of an organization’s culture, the conversation becomes less about retaining a diverse workforce and more about retaining the workforce.
Forbes wrote, “people leave managers, not companies.” It’s safe to say that retaining a diverse workforce lies squarely in the hands of supervisors, at all levels.
When you make diversity part of corporate culture, you make it OK to have conversations about implicit bias and you empower managers to get to know their employees and learn how to engage and support them as individuals with distinct and varied professional and personal needs and aspirations.
3. Stay Competitive
Keep your eyes on your competition’s compensation packages. Retaining a diverse workforce can —in some cases—quite simply be about the numbers. People view compensation as recognition for how much they’re valued. As a result, compensation makes the perfect tool for luring away top, diverse talent. Make every effort to stay competitive in your industry.
4. Create Alumni Networks
Create alumni groups for your current and former employees to network and interact. These alumni networks keep the door open for former employees to return to the organization and existing employees to refer top talent to the company. Having this type of outlet may also help to retain a diverse workforce
5. Leverage Exit Interviews to Pin-Point the Reason for Turnover
Every time an employee decides to leave the organization, hold an exit interview—preferably conducted by an outside firm—to determine the cause of the employee’s decision to leave the organization.
In the spirit of making diversity a part of corporate culture, do this for each turnover — no matter whether the candidate is considered a diverse employee or not.
Then use this data to identify and then plug the gaps in your organization that seem to be causing employees to leave.
Retaining a Diverse Workforce Cannot Be Ignored
When you want to retain a diverse workforce, you do not need to single out or cater to diverse candidates; that’s not sustainable. To retain a diverse workforce, your organization must learn not only that a diverse workforce is a key to the company’s financial growth and innovation, but also that diversity is not confined to a narrow group of people. To retain a diverse workforce, we need to realize that diversity comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and life experiences, and it’s important to honor them all as members of the company.