Why Your Diverse Talent Is Leaving—And What Your Organization Can Do About It

by Janice Gassam


When crafting a strategy to foster an equitable workplace, many organizations focus their efforts on attracting diverse talent. Organizational diversity initiatives place a heavy emphasis on the appearance of equity and the process of selecting and hiring diverse talent. While being able to attract diverse talent should be the initial focus, once individuals from underrepresented groups have been hired, the efforts to maintain an inclusive workplace stops. What’s the point of having a Lamborghini if you are not willing to do what’s necessary to properly maintain it? It’s critical to think of your organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives as a Lamborghini that requires frequent and ongoing maintenance otherwise it’s going to break down. What can your organization do to keep diverse talent engaged and reduce turnover?

The first strategy that should be implemented into the organizational diversity initiatives is ensuring that each employee feels supported and valued. An effective way to demonstrate this is through mentorship programs. A 2017 study by Heidrick & Struggles found that mentorship is a beneficial and impactful practice, particularly for women and minority employees. In addition, the same study found that companies that have a formal mentoring system in place had a competitive advantage over companies that did not. Developing a formal mentoring program that allows incoming employees to be paired with senior-level employees can create effective connections that provide the support that employees need to feel valued at the organization.

Ensure that your organization has a pipeline for developing diverse leadership. What can deter diverse candidates from staying at an organization may be the belief that they don’t have opportunities for advancement or that they do not see anyone that looks like them within the company. There may be policies and procedures in place that are inadvertently biased or do not allow for the direct promotion of diverse employees. A 2008 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that although men and women are hired at similar rates in entry-level professional jobs, at higher levels in the organization, the number of women seems to decline. Organizational leaders should be constantly re-evaluating these policies and procedures, and ensuring that there is a clear and objective pathway for advancement within the organization.

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