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The Worst Way to Kill DEI: Ignore Retention

In the wake of America’s most recent racial reckoning, companies have committed to ambitious diversity and inclusion goals. Recognizing the power they have to address the structural inequities that have produced a massive wealth gap (in addition to vastly different lived experiences) for communities of color, these corporations are stepping up in a big way. One lever they have at their disposal to directly impact racial equity is through their talent life cycles.  

In our experience, many companies tackle this challenge by focusing on who and how they hire. This bold step is an important one that we see change lives every day at Cara Collective, where over the organization’s 30-year history we’ve connected overlooked talent to 11,600 jobs. We also know, though, that the path to self-sufficiency and economic mobility requires that people can stay in those positions, which is why Cara participants only graduate once they are one year on the job. So, if you care about diversity and inclusion, you should also care about retention.  

We appreciate that companies care about retention given the high tangible and intangible costs associated with turnover, but retention should also be a key focus of diversity and inclusion efforts. It is not enough to expand your talent pipelines; if you can’t get employees to stay, these investments will be fruitless. Yes, organizations must have diverse talent to retain in the first place (which is why you should continue to commit to more inclusive recruiting and hiring), but in the long term, to be able to take advantage of the numerous benefits of diversity and get to our collective aim of greater racial equity, retention cannot be an afterthought. 

In McKinsey & Company’s report, “Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience in the US Private Sector,” they highlight a “double broken rung” where Black workers not only have higher attrition for frontline and entry-level jobs but also lower odds of advancement. The good news: if Black workers are able to get into a manager-level position, they have better odds of future promotion. This points to another important goal for diversity and inclusion: advancement. If we hope to see racial parity across organizations, companies will need to examine how both retention and advancement are being considered in their DEI strategies. 

That’s why Cara Plus is launching our inaugural Inclusive Employment Institute focused on retention and advancement this May. In this interactive institute, employers will: 

  • Strengthen onboarding processes to equip diverse talent for success in their role and ensure they “stick and stay”  
  • Develop team cultures that create a shared sense of belonging and an environment where all members of the team can thrive  
  • Cultivate relationships between frontline employees and managers, who have the biggest influence on employees’ outcomes  
  • Grow pathways to help diverse talent grow and advance so that they can maximize their contributions to the firm  
  • Workshop new practices by learning what is working for other employers and workshopping ideas with their peers 

If your organization is serious about inclusion and is looking for support to reduce turnover and strengthen advancement opportunities for diverse talent, click here to learn more and register for the Retention & Advancement Institute.  

About Cara Plus 

As a social enterprise of Cara Collective, Cara Plus engages employers and organizations across the nation to foster an inclusive economy where organizations – and all talent within them – have the ability and opportunity to thrive. Since our launch, Cara Plus has worked with dozens of socially minded companies and organizations to adopt or adapt Cara’s trainings and methodology. To learn more, please visit