How to Retain Diverse Talent with Effective Employee Development

Does this situation sound familiar? Your workplace needs more diversity, and so you’ve created an internal HR initiative to foster a more diverse environment. But as soon as you start to see results, the diverse talent you hired leaves for a different job.

And then it happens again. And again. And again.

It’s deeply frustrating; you have recognized a problem and yet your constant efforts to solve it don’t seem to be working. 

Not to mention that the statistics aren’t in your favor. More than a third of Black employees plan to leave their jobs within two years. That’s 30% higher than their white colleagues. It’s also due to an industry-wide challenge, and one that employees seem to know is happening. Only 40% of all professionals say that their organization’s DEI efforts are adequate.

Unsure how to retain diverse talent with effective employee development? Only 40% of professionals say their orgs have D&I efforts.

Source: Coequal

So the question remains: How can you transform short-term diversity hiring wins into a long-term culture shift within your organization?

If you’re unsure how to retain diverse talent with effective employee development, the solution is a holistic approach to development. Retaining diverse talent goes beyond the hiring process. To keep your employees, you must develop them on a regular basis. 

Think of it like this: Your organization is a garden. Your employees are seeds. If you neglect to water them, those seeds aren’t going to grow and will eventually die off (or at least, go off to seek greener pastures elsewhere). 

We realize this is nice in theory, but what does it look like in practice? In this article, we break down how to retain diverse talent with effective employee development so you can foster and maintain a truly diverse workplace.

Start by Redefining What Diversity Actually Means

Ask yourself: When you think of diversity, do you think of only race and gender? It’s time to look beyond these narrow limitations. Diversity means age, experience, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, location, experience, veteran status, and more. 

A true understanding of diversity means embracing every part of your employees. 

This understanding of diversity can mean an overall improvement to your organization, too. You’re able to see the needs of different types of employees and to provide tools and steps for them to grow. This new definition might help you find a high-potential employee right under your nose.

Not to mention that there is a lot of talent migration happening. If you are on the losing end of that migration, it can mean a loss of unique perspectives, innovation, and other benefits of a diverse workforce. Research confirms that companies with more diverse employee bases are more likely to outperform their peers

By not working to retain your diverse talent with effective employee development, you risk allowing some of your most valuable skills to walk out your door (and maybe into a competitor’s organization).

So How Can You Retain Diverse Talent with Effective Employee Development?

The needs of diverse employees aren’t particularly mysterious. Everyone has their own goals and aspirations. Employees who don’t see opportunities for their growth and advancement have little reason to stay in their jobs.

So how can you retain diverse talent? Effective employee development plans and programs are a great starting point. Companies that provide a clear, inclusive path to growth give employees the ability to envision their future at the organization. 

“94% of employees said they’d stay longer at a company that invested in their career.”

LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report

But this doesn’t mean you should stop focusing on recruiting diverse talent to start focusing on employee development. Recruitment should be constant while you offer opportunities for growth and development. Think of it as similar to investing money in a mutual fund. You can just drop a bunch of money in it and it will slowly grow over time. But if you keep investing regularly, you’ll start to see a compounding of interest that rapidly grows at a faster rate. 

The takeaway is that without clear growth opportunities, your recruitment efforts will go to waste. 63% of employees say that they’ve left a job due to a lack of career advancement opportunities. Remember that this is about more than just a traditional promotion—advancement isn’t necessarily synonymous with a new vertical job title.

Get managers and leaders involved!

Visible leadership support for and involvement in development opportunities is critical to diverse employees feeling valued and invested in. This connects participants with leaders they never would have had a chance to interact with normally. 

Don’t forget about including managers as well. Middle managers need training to support employee development, so get them involved sooner rather than later. This way they can support their team members who are participating in these programs. 

Often, managers are an under-tapped resource for pulicizing development opportunities. They know their employees' goals and aspirations more than HR or DEI teams do and can help guide those employees to the right opportunities at the right time.

To tap into this resource, however, most managers need to be shown by how to have a career development conversation. This effort is worth it! It’s been proven that leadership development initiatives have an outsized influence on employee engagement.

Know the Development Obstacles Within Your Organization

Diverse employees across many different categories are less likely than their peers to report having access to upskilling programs within an organization. For instance, a report from DeVry University and Reputation Leaders found that about 56% of women reported having access to upskilling opportunities, as compared with 73% of men. Meanwhile, only 42% of Black, Hispanic, and Asian American/Pacific Islander workers surveyed said they have access to and actually use company-paid upskilling.

Those startling numbers tell an important story for HR and DEI leaders to remember. Simply creating an employee development program is not enough. You need to work to make sure it’s communicated and used. Otherwise, you risk getting caught in an unproductive circle of research without any real action or strategy

Download the Free eBook: Five Real Ways to Create Employee Development for Everyone

Build a Culture That Includes Diverse Talent with Effective Employee Development

Workplace D&I development efforts can improve employee engagement by fostering a positive employee experience for everyone, not just diverse employees. The collective employee experience doesn’t get better until it’s better for everyone.

Different perspectives provide new ways of thinking that can help tackle problems in new and innovative ways.  It’s a vital pillar of company culture, and retaining those employees should be of utmost priority. Employee development for all not only lowers the cost of turnover but also gives you a competitive edge. 

Unsure how to retain diverse talent with effective employee development? It starts with proven inclusive and flexible training, such as virtual coaching programs like PILOT. 

Let’s talk about your specific talent situation, and see how our virtual employee coaching can help with retaining them. Book a demo today!


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