Employee Retention | 4 Strategies To Retain Diverse Teams

How to Retain Diverse Teams: 4 Approaches

8 January 2021

What strategies can your organisation adopt to elevate its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) position? Our second article proposes how you can retain a diverse range of candidates by enhancing your EVP.

In our first article in this D&I series, we explored ways an organisation can embed their own D&I strategy in their recruitment processes. Recruiting diverse talent is one thing. Retaining that talent is another. An organisation implementing a strong D&I strategy will balance both vital business aspects.

You can bolster your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) by cultivating a working environment that celebrates, supports and strengthens diverse and inclusive teams. Here are four approaches you can take to strengthen your retention strategy to ensure the best diverse candidates continue to thrive in your organisation.

Define your message clearly

Ensuring your EVP is clear and reflects the larger ambitions of your organisation is a positive first step. Your employer branding needs to be as strong and rigorous as your customer-facing one. Creating a unique EVP will help you clearly define the unique qualities your organisation fosters to make it inclusive and comfortable for employees.

A clear EVP should comprise of many things, but one aspect should be cultivating an inclusive working environment. How you communicate this is vital. All your employees should be aware of your EVP, whether that’s communicated directly via management, or made clearly visible on your intranet. A clear EVP should also be distinguishable. It’s easy to fall back on standard employee benefits that could be found in every organisation, but ask yourself what makes your working environment truly unique.

Create a culture of inclusivity

A company’s culture tells us a huge amount about its values and is often a great indicator of employee satisfaction and retention. Company culture is driven by leaders, but also requires having the right people in the right places to espouse the ethos of the organisation. For retaining diverse candidates, an organisation should be a place where employees are sure they can bring their authentic selves every day. Increasingly employees are valuing workplaces where this is possible, and they don’t have to adapt their characters to meet overly strict or rigorous behavioral codes.

A company culture where people can be who they are, with their talents and unique perspectives valued, is fundamental to an inclusive company culture. Furthermore, inclusion thrives when an organisation really knows who its employees are. Employees have diverse needs, so you should actively focus on asking them what those are through surveys, focus groups and one-on-one conversations. As a recent survey discovered, ‘’83% of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organisation fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60% of millennials who are actively engaged when their organisation does not foster an inclusive culture.’’ 1

Employee Resource Groups (ERG)

ERGs are an emerging trend for D&I focused employers. They are voluntary employee-led groups where individuals converse, based on demographic factors such as race, ethnicity or gender, or other factors such as common interests. Their goal - to make more employees voices heard within the organisation.

These could be LGBT groups, female-focused ERGs or religious groups. Some companies have even experimented with ERGs formed according to employees' generations – recognising the different expectations, communication methods and working styles of millennials for example, as compared to the baby boomer generation.

If an ERG evolves it can become an effective, positive force for change. Their discussions can help apply an introspective and inclusive lens on departments and processes within an organisation, and ensure that accounting, development and recruitment divisions make decisions that reflect the company's inclusivity goals.

Flexibility and physical space

This ties in with company culture, but the flexibility afforded to employees nearly always increases employees’ satisfaction, and therefore increases the chances of retention. Flexible working schedules for example could benefit employees who are single parents, have disabilities or are returning to work after parental leave. Studies consistently show too that flexible schedules reduce absenteeism, imbues employees with a stronger commitment to the job and reduces stress.

The physical space of the office can also be a great way to demonstrate your organisation’s inclusivity focus. Gender-inclusive options for bathrooms for example, aside from the usual designated ‘men’ and ‘women.’ Whilst a dress code can still be implemented, an organisation should not police what people wear based on outdated approaches to ‘professional’ attire.

Creating an office space that facilitates wheelchair access not only helps individuals who directly use the features, it’s a reminder to all employees and office visitors of your inclusivity commitment. It will ensure you don’t put off potential applicants with certain disabilities.