Diversity is defined as being composed of different elements or qualities. Gender, thought, ethnicity, background, religion and many more make up various types of diversity. Diversity is composed of the characteristics that make us different. Without our diverse experiences and ways of thinking, many of the innovations in the world we see and use today may not have been designed or created.  Therefore it is imperative we consider it in the quest for and retention of talent in Tech.

  1. Diversify the Talent Pipeline.

With the given talent shortage and wars currently occurring in Silicon Valley, this seems like a no-brainer.  The way to think about talent pools to tap may be a differentiating factor.  Employee Relations Programs are a great recruiting resource for companies.  If you already have an employee referral program in place, then consider a one-time special bonus period for referrals hired after a 3 month period of employment for payout.  This special bonus can be communicated via email or message boards, with a picture of a diverse workforce saying recruit your friends! . This could be a subtle reminder, for your current employee populous, to consider a variety of people they know that are qualified for open positions. If your company doesn’t, then one may consider designing and implementing one..

Also, consider the talent pools from all colleges with applicable majors and, perhaps, reach out to alumni groups.  Many of these schools have a list of alumni, which receive email communications on a regular basis. These alumni also receive information concerning job announcements.  Look outside of the standard list of colleges, where most companies recruit from.  There are colleges like historically black colleges and universities that serve an underrepresented population.  Colleges, like North Carolina A&T, Prairie View A&M, and Florida A & M are known for their engineering degrees.

Finally, an additional avenue to consider is reaching out to Professional Organizations such as Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers.  These organizations have both a national and a local presence.  There are a myriad of recruitment opportunities.

  1. Make On-boarding a Great Experience & Provide Mentor-ship/buddies for Employees

Now that we have found our great talent, retention starts with a great on-boarding experience. On-boarding is the first time an employee experiences the culture of the company.  It alone can set the tone for the employee’s future.  A recent article from SHRM stated that “69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great on-boarding. New employees, who went through a structured on-boarding program, were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years. Organizations with a standard on-boarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.”  Being able to identify mentors for new employees, particularly those early in their career, has been particularly helpful in retaining employees. These mentors can help the employees understand and navigate, throughout the company politics and issues.

  1. Make Diversity a Part of Corporate Culture

.  Imagine if a company makes high heels and no women work for the company, what would you think of its product?  They might make a product that looks nice, but would it be viable?  The company may even consider leveraging what other high heels look like in an effort to design a better shoe. If women are the consumer, why would they buy such a product?  It would help the process greatly if women were to be considered in the development process.

In today’s workforce many employees are looking to connect their work with social initiatives. Companies are working the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility into their culture. This is being driven by the millennial employee population. It is an opportunity for leadership to decide how to weave the idea of diversity & Corporate Social Responsibility into its DNA and culture to meet the desire and expectation of their employee populous.

These are two basic ways to show where diversity can show value for a corporation.  People want to know they ae valued as a customer and as an employee.  Encouraging a diverse workforce is a way to demonstrate that value.  This enables employees to see others like them in the workforce, collaborate with people that have different experiences, and potentially widen the company’s customer base.

  1. Have Regular & Consistent Communication with Employees

A regular connection with the employees also helps in retention and engagement. Employees use feedback and input as a gage to determine how successful they are being.  Managers have multiple opportunities to check in with employees.  These meetings can include, informal meetings, 1:1’s , team meetings, state of the business meetings, goal setting, and lunch and learns.  Often employees feel like the first time they have an opportunity for a real connection with their manager is at review time.  If feedback is given along the way, employees have an opportunity to stay connected to the team and continue to grow. The review cycle should not be the only time a manager connects with their employees.

  1. Set Goals & Development Plans

It is important for employees to have goals.  This advises in an organization what they are responsible for. Every year an employee’s goals should be reviewed.  As an employee grows in their role make adjustments to the goals, KPI or commitments..  Stretch goals are great for all employees, but to those that are almost ready for a promotion, they can be a way to demonstrate competency in a various areas of desired expertise.  They are also a reminder to employees that managers support the employee’s growth.  Stretch goals should be included in development plans.

Personal Development Plans are a vital part of all employees’ retention.    Managers should use the development plan to communicate to employees that the company is invested in their career growth. Taking time to design a development plan can also provide managers a line of sight into how the employee wants to grow within the company.  This can also be used as an opportunity for to communicate to the employee how their role fits into the company/organizational/ department road map.  These are opportunities to re-recruit employees. Engaged employees will, therefore, understand how their work can affects the company’s bottom line.  .

It is important to meet with employees, to set stretch goals – while defining KPI’s , commitments, goals every year with employees this is a great time to add a stretch goal and include it on the development plan.  Stretch goals are great for all employees, but to those that are almost ready for a promotion, they can be a critical way to demonstrate competency in a various areas of desired expertise

In conclusion, A little over a year ago 30 + companies signed the tech inclusion white house pledge

As the eyes of the world are on Silicon Valley for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, senior leadership at over 30 companies are today making a bold commitment to fuel American innovation and economic growth by increasing the diversity of our technology workforce. We resolve to take action to make the technology workforce at each of our companies fully representative of the American people, as soon as possible. We will treat this goal as a top management priority and business imperative, because tapping the full measure of talent from across the country is critical for the long-term success of both our individual companies and the nation as a whole.

The problem was identified, but the implementation has been stagnated.  Companies should goal set and have development plans to truly make this a priority for themselves and their workforce.