So, your company has made great strides in hiring more employees from underrepresented groups and has committed to strengthening diversity & inclusion (D&I). You’ve spent all this time and money to recruit good people and create a stronger team. Now, how do you make sure to engage and retain them? That’s a huge issue that many companies have been struggling to solve. It seems that we’ve made great gains with recruiting diverse talent, but not so much with engagement and retention strategies.
Here are some ways to strengthen your ability to engage and retain a diverse team.
1. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Experts
A growing number of companies have been putting their money where their mouths are by recruiting experts/thought leaders to lead D&I initiatives. In many cases, this has led to higher morale among employees from underrepresented groups.
It may be beneficial for your organization to create a similar role, and bring on a passionate candidate looking to create positive change.
2. D&I-focused Policies
You’re more likely to engage and retain employees if they feel that they’re being heard, understood, and supported - especially if they have some specific needs due to being part of a underrepresented/marginalized group. It’s important to ask for honest feedback from all employees on what needs they wish were being met and do a thorough analysis on how to create the most inclusive environment you can.
Here are some examples of inclusive policies:
● Nursing/Pumping Rooms
There may be times when nursing mothers who are visitors or
employees will need to nurse or pump breast milk. As you can
imagine, it can be incredibly uncomfortable, inconvenient, and
alienating when you’re in this position, but have no appropriate
resources to rely on.
● Family-friendly Leave
Chances are that you’re most likely going to have a fair number of
parents in your employee pool at any given time. For these
employees who have to juggle challenging parenting demands on top
of their office workloads, company policies that take their special
circumstances into account can make a world of difference.
Make it a point to audit policies, such as parental leave, to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to help these employees balance their work and parenting demands. This will, in turn, help them stay more engaged, focused, and productive at work, while giving them a good reason to stick around long-term.
● Anti-harassment policies
Because harassment of all types can happen easily and often in various environments - with work being a common place for it - it’s important to clearly state what will not be tolerated at the office. You should aim to create a safe, accepting space for all employees, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, etc.
It’s crucial to have formal anti-harassment policies in place and to abide by them consistently and thoughtfully.
● Sensitivity trainings
Sensitivity trainings can strengthen empathy and
self-awareness among employees. This can help minimize incidents of harassment, by equipping employees with invaluable knowledge and tools to contribute to creating healthy, inclusive work environments.
One tool that has often proved to be beneficial for engaging and
retaining more employees is mentorship. According to a study by Deloitte in 2016, millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not.” Employees of minority/marginalized groups can especially benefit from having this kind of support.
If you don’t have one already, look into creating a formal internal mentorship program at your company. If you have one, make sure to review it regularly to make sure you’re maximizing its effectiveness.
4. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Catalyst.org describes ERGs as “voluntary, employee-led groups that
foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational
mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.”
They can serve as great resources for community, support, and
professional development and can be a significant factor in how
engaged an employee from an underrepresented group feels at work.
Honest feedback from employees is invaluable. Regular surveys - our
company does them weekly - helps gauge the levels of satisfaction and engagement of employees, and can be sources of useful recommendations for creating a high-quality work environment for everyone. Lucky for you, there’s a wide variety of free and paid resources for surveying employees.
6. Exit Interviews
When an employee leaves your company, an exit interview can be a goldmine of information on reducing turnover and increasing engagement. Employees move on for various reasons, and it’s pretty much inevitable for any company. With turnover being so costly in terms of money, time, and team morale - its best to try to get all the honest feedback you can to engage and retain your employees for longer.
The saying goes that “comparison is the thief of joy.” But, in this case it’s the giver of it. By comparing your numbers (e.g., how many employees of X background, how many women in management positions, etc.) to those of similar companies, you can get a better sense of where you stand in relation to the average. This will help you re-adjust goals and can help you keep an eye on the competition in terms of talent acquisition and retention.
8. Knowledge Exchange with other D&I leaders
Whether informally or formally, knowledge sharing with external D&I professionals can be a rich source of best practices, case studies, and collaboration and innovation. In terms of formal knowledge sharing, there are no shortage of D&I-focused thought leadership and networking groups and events - such as Tech Inclusion and SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference & Exposition.
9. Studies within the company
If you have the time and resources, conducting an internal study tracking how D&I initiatives are correlating with different types of quantitative and qualitative outcomes can give you rich information on how to maximize your success.
Please share this post with your networks using hashtag #nextplaymentoring. You can email us at Charu@nextplay.ai if any of this resonated with you - and especially if you have a mentorship success story to share!