Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) programs are becoming more popular within companies as organizations become more aware of the benefits of workplace differences. By striving to establish a more representative employee base through targeted hiring practices, these programs help companies to foster greater diversity of thought. A well-balanced and diverse employee pool results in alignment with diverse populations, creative internal thought processes, and responsible operations.   Research has shown that diverse companies are better at problem solving and often have better customer satisfaction metrics. Particularly, with increasing globalization, a diverse workplace is important to ensure that all of a company’s stakeholders are represented in the company’s employee and decision-making base.   For companies to realize the full benefits of diverse hiring practices, however, they must also ensure that they retain the diverse talent that they’re striving to bring in, which in turn improves the organization’s bottom line.   Successfully retaining a diverse set of employees is an essential component for an organization’s ability to operate over the long term. To ensure it’s being done effectively requires incorporating data around human capital and employee retention into the company’s critical success metrics.  


  Diversifying Global Accounting Talent: Actionable Solutions for Progress, a study published in April 2022 by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), California Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the International Federation of Accountants, found that most participants, especially women, felt that there was a need to enhance the level of inclusiveness in the accounting and finance profession. As a result, the study emphasized the need to retain diverse talent.   There are several areas companies can focus on to help retain these employees. Here are a few to start with:   Create a sense of belonging. Employees develop a sense of belonging in a workplace through sustained inclusion and a commitment to equality. When companies sustain an equitable workplace, they in turn often create a sense of belonging.   It’s important to ensure that the workplace is committed to a true culture of fostering and promoting diverse value and thought. A commitment to belonging promotes openness, respect, and inclusion when interacting with people of different backgrounds. It’s important to focus on equity and inclusion along with focusing on diversity.   Evaluate DE&I challenges. For a culture of continuous diversity and innovation, it’s important to continuously evaluate programs that are designed to enhance diversity within an organization. This includes assessing and understanding problems and correcting them as they occur.   According to the Society for Human Resource Management, around 80% of companies are simply “going through the motions” of DE&I programs without “holding themselves accountable.” For example, in many instances, organizations have diversity statements, but they don’t have support from the top for a full-fledged, well-developed program that’s part of the organization’s fabric.   Make DE&I a priority. DE&I is often left to the realm of human resources rather than emphasized as an organization-wide priority. It’s particularly less prevalent in discussions surrounding technical employees, such as those in finance and IT staff, as they’re often perceived to be back-office rather than forward-facing functions. Yet these are often areas that struggle to build an employee population from all different backgrounds. The function of the job shouldn’t outweigh the culture of the company.   To overcome some of these barriers, it’s important to ensure that when an organization is hiring with an emphasis on diversity, it considers it part of an integrated strategy rather than something that’s a nice-to-have benefit in the workplace. Companies like Facebook are touting that they hire for culture add rather than culture fit.   Culture fit suggests that employees are hired only when they embody the values and fit into the organization. Culture add, on the other hand, suggests that diverse candidates will bring different perspectives that company leaders know will add value.   This is essentially saying that companies are placing emphasis on a fluid and dynamic culture rather than a static one. (For more on culture add and culture fit, see Paul Myers, “Moving Beyond Culture Fit,” Strategic Finance, March 2022.)  


  Human talent is one of the greatest assets and competitive advantages for an organization. Employees are the driving mechanism within an organization. A focus on the retention rates of employees with an emphasis on DE&I is important for a company to maintain a truly innovative workforce. It’s also a reflection of the company’s commitment to effective governance and social responsibility. In short, this is a strong indication of a company’s ability to ensure success and sustained strategic innovation in the workforce.   Good DE&I practices for managers include empowering employees, encouraging authenticity, building trust among the workforce, and bringing diverse forces together to work toward a common goal. A Gallup poll of 7,272 U.S. adults found that 50% of employees left their job “to get away from a manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career” (Tom Nolan, “The No. 1 Employee Benefit That No One’s Talking About,” Gallup Workplace).   Therefore, it’s important for an organization to hire managers from diverse backgrounds and experiences who in turn care for, develop, and maximize the strength of every employee.   In addition, having a good reputation for DE&I practices benefits a company. Recruitment and the costs of employee turnover can be very expensive for a business from a practical and reputational perspective. Talented individuals often consider the reputation of a company when considering where to work and avoid places that don’t have a good reputation.   As important as hiring talent is, it’s equally important for companies to retain talent. This starts with creating diversity and belonging as part of the corporate culture. Training managers, making a growth path for employees, creating an inclusive workplace culture, and creating mentorship opportunities can help in attracting and retaining diverse talent.