by Jared Karol
Jared Karol is the founder and chief storyteller at Storytelling for Good, connecting people and ideas through the power of story. The son of a gay father who died of AIDS, he values diverse perspectives and building inclusive communities. Learn more at www.jaredkarol.com.
When it comes to retaining the diverse employees that you’ve worked so diligently to hire, we have to remember one crucial thing: diversity and inclusion, while often paired together, are not synonymous. Melinda Epler, Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst says it well, “Diversity is bringing people with different experiences to the table. Inclusion is inviting them to speak and encouraging them to lead”.
What do executives, leaders, and managers — and all employees — need to do to make certain that everyone is valued? To start, we have to understand and appreciate that each person’s experiences and perspectives are valid, even when — especially when — they may fall outside of the experience and perspective of the majority group.
If you are the only person of color, or the only woman, or the only lesbian, it might take a while to feel like you can be your authentic self at work. While this may be true for all employees, if the company is not mindful of creating a culture — and specific tools — to make everyone feel included, valued, and connected, then the diverse talent will leave.
What are some of those tools that will help keep people from leaving?
One of the essential, non-negotiables is that people with similar experience levels must receive equal pay. Nothing screams “we value you” louder than being paid the same as your peers. Also, benefit packages, flexible schedules, and family leave options need to be consistent and available to everyone, no matter the family configuration.
Access to Leadership
All employees need to feel like they have access to leadership. People from diverse backgrounds especially need to know that they can voice their concerns without feeling singled out as representing only the perspective of “their group.” When leaders make themselves available for open dialogue — and are present in those conversations — employees feel a greater sense of belonging.
Another way to retain your diverse talent is to establish and maintain robust mentor programs and employee resource groups. When new employees feel like there are people in the company who are specifically paired with them to help them succeed, they are more likely to stay.
Diverse Party Planning Committee
Furthermore, when planning meetups and other festivities outside of work, it’s important to get a pulse on the dynamic interests of your team. For example, not everyone may feel comfortable going to a bar every week, and parents may have restrictive schedules. It may seem minor, but empowering a diverse party planning committee who is aware of the range of interests and preferences goes a long way in making everyone feel welcome.
What Are You Talking About?
Lastly, what are the day-to-day conversations like — around the coffee machine, walking to lunch, waiting for a meeting to start? Are they conversations where everyone feels welcomed and included? Can everyone participate? Can everyone connect on some level? If so, you’re going to go a long way in retaining your diverse talent. Which is of course what you want.
About Change Catalyst:
Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through education, community engagement and mentorship. Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.
Our Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion. We partner with the tech community to solve diversity and inclusion together through conferences, career fairs, strategic consulting and training. Our work spans the full tech ecosystem, including: Education, Workplace, Entrepreneurship and Policy.
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