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3 Tips for Retaining Underrepresented Minority Employees

Retaining underrepresented minority (URM) employees is a critical issue for employers. Given that URM employees face higher turnover rates than white employees, organizations must be intentional about keeping and advancing their diverse employees. Here are three science-based tips to retain underrepresented minorities in your organization.

1. Foster a Climate of Diversity and Inclusion

Developing an organizational climate that supports diversity and inclusion is important for retaining URM employees. In a large-scale study, researchers found that perceptions of a “pro-diversity” climate significantly predict lower turnover intentions for Black managers, more than for white managers. Other research finds that a supportive diversity climate is linked to greater intent to stay with an organization among racial minority employees.

For those looking to build a stronger diversity and inclusion climate, research suggests that organizations should invest in diversity-related programs and prioritize racial and ethnic diversity at the leadership level.

2. Show Real Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Many organizations have published statements about their commitment to diversity. However, some employees may feel frustrated if they do not see these statements followed up with action. New psychological research has identified a phenomenon called “diversity dishonesty”–a perception that an organization has misrepresented how much they value and support diversity. Among URM employees, diversity dishonesty is linked to a lower sense of perceived fit and authenticity at work.

Organizations should work to build and show evidence of a commitment to diversity. Focusing on real evidence, instead of just messaging, is likely to decrease diversity dishonesty beliefs and their associated consequences. Showing (vs. “telling”) that diversity is valued can include revealing the actual demographic makeup of your organization or word-of-mouth evidence of the diversity climate. If your organization is in the process of improving its diversity climate, consider sharing information about your current diversity goals.

3. Build Minority Networking Opportunities

Because racial minorities face unequal access to workplace networks, supporting minority networking is helps retain underrepresented minority employees. Networking provides URM employees with social capital, and data shows that minority employees are more likely to consider networking “important” than non-minority employees. The benefits of networking opportunities include access to mentors who could provide important social information and organizational mobility. Check out this blog for details on inclusive mentorship practices.

Another fruitful way to support networking includes encouraging or reinforcing minority employee network groups (e.g., groups for Black, Hispanic, and Asian employees). These groups are associated with decreased turnover intentions among higher-ranking minorities. Encourage managers to participate, because when more top managers are involved the benefits of these network groups are strengthened.

These tips are a starting point for retaining employees from underrepresented minority backgrounds in your organization. By focusing on retention, organizations can address the needs of their current workforce while also boosting their ability to welcome future underrepresented employees into a more inclusive workplace.