Diversity and Inclusion training part 2: Best practices to attract and retain talent

Diversity and inclusion training is more than ticking a box for mandatory workplace requirements once a year or even a genuine way to improve cultural awareness and inclusiveness. When done correctly, providing greater diversity and inclusion in your company can bring a wide range of benefits, including keeping the recent spate of employee resignations to a minimum.



The employee retention problem of the last 18 months


If your business has lost employees as part of the “Great Resignation” of the last few years, you’re not alone. According to a new McKinsey diversity report, 2021 will not be the end of this period of devastating worker attrition. Forty percent of the employees in the McKinsey & Company survey for their report stated that they were at least somewhat likely to quit their jobs in the next three to six months, with 18 percent falling into the “likely” to “almost certain” categories. These results were consistent across all industries and five nations (Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia, and Singapore).


Why are people leaving their employment in such large numbers (19 million in the US alone, as of September 2021), often without having another job lined up yet (two-thirds of those considering quitting)? Workers cite a variety of causes:

  • No hybrid employment or remote work option available

  • No flexibility in work schedule

  • Low financial compensation

  • Poor work-life balance

  • Unmanageable workload

  • Need to care for family

  • Failing physical and emotional health (especially among pandemic frontline workers)

  • Looking for a better job

  • No potential for advancement


However, the factors listed above were not even the top three causes of attrition, which were the following:

  • Employees didn’t feel valued by their company.

  • Employees didn’t feel recognized by their manager.

  • Employees didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work.


Among those surveyed, non-white workers were more likely to say they felt disconnected and unappreciated than their white counterparts. And yet many employers don’t understand why workers are leaving and are focused on transactional reasons (money, prestige, benefits, etc.) over interpersonal relationship ones, like the three named above.



How you can attract new talent and prevent attrition with DEI training?


So, how does your business or nonprofit organization stem the tide of attrition and not become another statistic in the “Great Resignation?” Providing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is a key place to start. Offering DEI training and making all employees feel welcome on the job addresses many of the issues McKinsey mentions as contributing to workplace dissatisfaction and attrition:

  • Sheltering toxic leaders

  • Lack of leadership in the right positions

  • Lack of office culture or intolerant office culture

  • Excessive focus on transactional work elements (versus relationships, rewarding work, etc.)

  • Failure to align benefits with employee priorities

  • Lack of career trajectories and promotion opportunities

  • No sense of community


Diversity and inclusion training seeks to uncover places where companies consciously or unconsciously fall down in these areas so that all employees feel equally valued at work, with a sense of purpose and belonging.


When you eliminate the three big reasons why employees are leaving their jobs, you can significantly reduce attrition. Not only that, but you also start to gain a reputation for having a positive work environment, which attracts top talent. Your business can become one of those companies workers are flocking to instead of the kind they’re running away from.


Every company can grow in this area, even McKinsey & Company. While they score top grades for diversity, female workers there still feel there is room for improvement when it comes to gender divisions.


Diversity training best practices for long-term success


Are there diversity training advantages and disadvantages? Is there any reason not to champion greater diversity and inclusiveness in your workplace? Let’s look at the pros and cons of diversity training before we conclude with best practices, examples, and suggestions. There really aren’t any long-term negatives associated with becoming more diverse — only pain points that must be overcome in the process.


First, the advantages of diversity training are substantial, in addition to avoiding unwanted worker attrition and appealing to job candidates:

  • Another report from McKinsey & Company from 2015 has shown that companies with more diverse workforces do better financially.

  • A diverse workforce with cultural awareness helps businesses compete and thrive in the global marketplace.

  • Decision making tends to be more objective in diverse businesses.

  • Diverse culture and new perspectives bring greater creativity and innovation.


As far as the cons go, there are two to be aware of:

  • The transition can be difficult, especially in places with entrenched old ways of thinking and resistance to diversity.

  • There are financial costs associated with becoming diverse and inclusive (training, team building events or Employee Resource Group development).



What are diversity and inclusion best practices? Your organization may have its own unique needs to be addressed. However, in general, we find these priorities to be helpful:

  • Know the difference between diversity (having employees of different races, faiths, orientations, genders, abilities, backgrounds, etc.) versus inclusion (making everyone feel welcome). Simply satisfying quotas is not enough.

  • Start with diversity and inclusion in the company’s mission statement, employee handbook, etc.

  • Demonstrate inclusion and diversity from the top down, starting with the C suite and management.

  • Incorporate diversity and inclusion into hiring practices, such as recruitment, job descriptions, and interviewing.

  • Offer clear career paths and internal promotion opportunities, open to all who qualify.

  • Improve internal knowledge sharing.

  • Develop a 365 approach to diversity, not just around check-the-box workplace training.

  • Check in with employees regularly to see how they feel.

  • Make diversity and inclusion part of your brand so your company develops a reputation for being forward-thinking in this regard.


Be sure to review Part I of our blog posts on diversity training for more ideas. And if your group is struggling with where to start or how to transform your workplace, Tough Convos is here to assist you. We can lead difficult discussions, conduct training sessions, and tailor programs to your organization so you stay out of the attrition trap. Call us at 858-876-8176, or reach out online to let us know how we can help.