Sustaining Diversity Through Effective Retention Programs

Image of a keyboard with a yellow sticky note placed on top. The sticky note has the words 'I quit' written in black ink, indicating resignation or leaving a job.

As PRNEWS has previously explored, organizations still face challenges when it comes to retaining diverse talent. Today, we bring you insights from Kristelle Siarza, CEO of Siarza and a member of The Change Agencies and Valarie De La Garza, CEO at Fenton. The industry experts shed light on effective diversity retention strategies and how organizations can build successful programs to sustain the diverse workforce they've worked hard to attract.

De La Garza, acknowledges the challenges faced by the industry regarding diversity retention.

"The public relations industry’s performance in building a diverse and inclusive workforce is abysmal," she says.

To address this issue, companies must focus on creating a culture of belonging and equity that empowers all employees, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Building a Culture of Belonging

At the heart of successful diversity retention programs lies the creation of a culture where employees feel valued, respected, and included. De La Garza emphasizes, "DEI is a firm-wide commitment."

She says every individual within the organization should actively contribute to fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are embraced and celebrated. Employee resource groups (ERGs) play an important role in this effort, as they offer a sense of kinship and support for diverse staff members, which contribute to their retention.

Siarza adds, "Companies looking to start a [diversity] pipeline should look at auditing their current culture to make sure that if recruitment pipelines convert to jobs, there is a culture that will keep and retain the employees."

She suggests regular assessments of company culture and employee feedback to help identify areas that require improvement, leading to a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

Empowerment through Professional Development

To ensure diversity retention, organizations must provide adequate opportunities for professional growth and development. De La Garza notes, "We believe there are transferable skills that are strengthened through experience, professional development, and over time." Companies should invest in ongoing training, mentorship programs, and skill-building workshops that empower employees to excel in their roles and advance in their careers.

Siarza further highlights the importance of "creating pathways to leadership for diverse communications professionals." Sjhe says offering mentorship, leadership programs, and clear career progression pathways, allows organizations to actively support the growth and advancement of underrepresented talent.

Competitive and Equitable Compensation

Equitable compensation is the backbone of diversity retention. Fair pay not only demonstrates an organization's commitment to treating all employees equitably but also serves as a powerful incentive for employees to stay and thrive within the company.

"No plan can be comprehensively executed without highly talented HR leaders and intentionality around competitive and equitable compensation," De La Garza says.

Inclusive Workforce Representation

Having diverse teams that mirror the communities they serve is key in fostering an inclusive workplace.

De La Garza asserts, "We are passionate in the belief that accounts staffed by teams that mirror the communities our clients serve are actually stronger given our lived-in experiences and unique multicultural insights we bring to the work."

Representation at all levels of the organization is necessary for ensuring that diverse voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes.

Diverse Recruitment Pathways

A successful diversity retention program starts with intentional and inclusive recruitment strategies. Organizations should explore recruitment avenues beyond traditional paths, reaching out to government or nonprofit sectors to find transferable skills.

"Agencies are looking in less-traditional places for talent [with] transferable skills," Siarza advises.

By broadening the talent pool and focusing on skills rather than traditional qualifications, companies can attract a diverse range of candidates who can contribute significantly to the organization.

Measuring Success and Continual Improvement

Measuring the effectiveness of diversity retention programs is essential for success. Regularly tracking key metrics such as retention rates, employee satisfaction, and career progression can help organizations identify areas for improvement.

"Companies working to improve representation in their workforce should be transparent about where they are now, where they want to be, and how they plan to get there," De La Garza says.

Our industry experts both agree that the key to building a culture of belonging is to create a workplace in which everyone feels valued and respected, and that is at the core of a successful retention program. Developing employee resource groups, building an inclusive environment, and emphasizing a firm-wide commitment to diversity are essential steps toward achieving this goal.

Tai Nichols is event content manager for PRNEWS. Follow her: @SathiyyahN