The Key to Retaining Diverse Hires

Diversity is sometimes simplified to a ‘pipeline’ problem in hiring, but it really starts with those already in your company. Treat them well. Make them want to stay and grow with you. Have them feel included, listened to, given chances for advancement, and paid equitably. Promoting inclusion retains employees – all employees.

Inclusion is the key to retaining diverse hires. You’re not creating more opportunity for people if you bring them to the table, then fail to give them a place setting.

Here are some tips on promoting inclusion:

Create processes for giving more objective feedback

Performance reviews and other feedback should focus on an employee’s work, not their personality. Harvard Business Review found that 61% of a manager’s rating is reflective of the manager’s experience and attitudes instead of an accurate assessment of performance. Especially double check critiques on soft skills as women and minorities are often unfairly criticized for traits that would be brushed off if exhibited by white men.

Create a rotating roster for miscellaneous administrative duties

There are various administrative duties that crop up in offices which are no one’s specific responsibility, but often get relegated to women. Whether it’s taking meeting notes, writing documentation, or helping organize a social event, create a way for these duties to be doled out fairly to all team members.

Promote a culture of advocacy

Some behaviors are so subtly negative towards employees of underrepresented groups that they are hard to call attention to or notice from the outside. Small negatives add up, whether it’s a patronizing tone or a consistent dismissal of ideas. If you notice certain co-worker’s ideas always falling flat in meetings or frequently getting interrupted, then speak up. Point out when someone gets spoken over. Or call attention to their proven expertise. Women and other minorities often broach ideas that get ignored, but then get picked up and adopted by someone else who is listened to and credited with the idea. Saying something as simple as, “Can you clarify for me how that’s different from what X just said?” reminds everyone who originally had the idea and gives the other person a chance to clarify how they expanded upon it.

Form teams with an inclusion mindset

If you have fewer members of underrepresented groups, do not intentionally separate them to spread them over more teams. One voice can get easily silenced, but two can amplify and support each other. Spreading employees from underrepresented groups thin could arguably provide more perspective on a greater number teams, but it comes at the expense of the employee. They are often expected to take on the extra work of being the voice for their entire minority.

Evaluate advancement paths

It can be common for underrepresented groups to get promoted more slowly or not at all. While 64% of entry level corporate employees are women and people of color, only 32% make it to the C-Suite. Examine the rates people earn promotions by gender and race. When promoting employees to managerial, leadership, and executive roles, ensure the pool is sufficiently diverse. Challenge leaders to advance more women and people of color, and tie compensation to measurable progress. However, always acknowledge and respect the advancement path the individual wants to take. They may be more interested in high impact projects rather than a managerial promotion.

Learn from attrition

Measure exit rates by gender and race then analyze whether employees of underrepresented groups are leaving at a higher rate. Conduct exit interviews to uncover problems with workplace culture or advancement paths. Ask the hard questions about problematic areas; don’t rely on departing employees to volunteer their issues.

Double down on flexibility

Implement programs that give employees the resources they need to stay in their job, like the ability to work remotely and on flexible schedules. Review your benefits and policies to ensure they support underrepresented employees. Realize that if your workplace culture prizes late hours and overtime, people, disproportionately women, with family responsibilities will be hit hardest and seen as less dedicated. In reality, those people may very well be working smarter, more efficiently, and getting just as much done.

Close pay gaps

Consider establishing compensation bands for job levels based on role, function, and amount of experience. This will lead to more equitable pay across the company for all employees. If that’s not yet in the cards, perform a pay equity audit, and move quickly to parity. This includes auditing raise requests: Payscale found that people of color are significantly less likely to receive a raise when they ask for one versus white males. Then do it all again in six months — this must be a constant process, not a one-and-done moment.

Implementing an inclusion-centered mindset won’t happen overnight. It takes time. Begin with the smaller, more actionable steps then build. Ensure each of your employees is valued and listened to. Then as your company grows, create a talent pipeline that takes in candidates from a multitude of backgrounds. Our strategies for expanding your talent pipeline can help.

As a Seattle-area staffing company with over 17 years of experience, Team Red Dog’s high touch approach understands how important it is to support all employees. Connect with us!

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