Diverse Team

Six Ways to Retain a Diverse Team


The benefits of having an inclusive and diverse team are, by now, well documented. As we note on our impact page:

  • Research shows that organizations that are diverse in terms of gender are more likely to be above average in terms of profitability
  • Companies that have improved inclusion for people with disabilities tend to outperform their peers in terms of shareholder returns
  • Teams with ethnically and culturally diverse leadership are more likely to be more profitable

Find our source here.

The reasons for the benefits noted above are intuitive.

Having a diverse team means that you have a wider range of experience to draw on, which can lead to more innovation. Diverse companies attract top talent, because not only are workers increasingly expecting to be part of a diverse team but because talent cuts across every identity, from race and gender to disability.

Having an inclusive organization means a talented person can find acceptance in your organization regardless of their identity.

And, whatever you’re selling, a diverse team comes with insights on reaching numerous demographics in an authentic way.

So, that’s why it’s important to hire a diverse team. (We can help you do that, by the way.) But how do you ensure you’re holding on to that team?

Flexability has extensive experience in helping companies navigate this journey, and a key insight we can share is this: pay close attention to your organization’s culture.

Culture is intangible – yet it defines who you are. It’s the attitude that dominates your team. It’s the way team members interact with one another and with your clients. It speaks to what they prioritize when making decisions. It’s how people in your organization understand and relate to the work they do.

If you are struggling to retain a diverse team, it’s very likely that adjustments need to be made in your company’s culture.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Be clear and consistent about inclusion

This means having a clear policy around discrimination and a transparent approach to enforcing it.

If you don’t have a policy, it’s a good idea to workshop one with your team to ensure that members feel part of the process and own it themselves from the very beginning. This can be tricky to facilitate, so consider getting a professional in to guide you toward a constructive engagement. Here’s how we can help.

Once you have a policy in place, ensure that new hires are familiar with it. And if transgressions happen, make sure you’re transparent and consistent in the way you handle them.

2. Scrutinize your policies for bias

As you lead your team toward being more open and accommodating, make sure you’re practicing what you preach. Start with your policies.

Do your company policies allow for flextime and remote work where possible? Are your managers expected to ensure that all team members are equipped with the right tools to reach their full potential?

Is your office environment comfortable and accessible for anyone who may have a disability (bear in mind that many disabilities are invisible)?

Without tackling bias in your policies, an attempt at inclusion can seem halfhearted and ultimately won’t help move your culture forward.

3. Have practical diversity training

Be wary of a one-size-fits-all approach to diversity training. Training that simply takes your team through the definitions of terms and phrases is unlikely to achieve the results you’re looking for.

At Flexability, we start with understanding your unique challenges and your team dynamic before we walk the journey with you. We strongly believe that diversity training must be practical and your team must walk away with insights they can apply (or start to apply) immediately.

It can be an uncomfortable process (as genuine efforts at improvement often are), but it’s ultimately rewarding and a far more sustainable approach than simply ticking boxes.

4. Talk it out (and listen)

It’s impossible to achieve an inclusive work environment without having some kind of forum for people to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. We use a method called “EQUALS”, which encourages empathy through listening, understanding and self-reflection. Read about it here.

It’s very important to create time and space to air difficult issues respectfully without blame or shame in order to move people along on this journey.

5. Lead by example

This is critical. Executives must be present and involved in diversity training sessions. They must take part in forums and they must be seen to respect and enforce your policies around this in a way that’s fair and open.

A big part of meeting this goal is ensuring that when you promote and hire executives you already have these values in mind. Here’s our approach to an executive search.

6. Test yourself

Most people see themselves as being fair and open-minded. Company leaders are no different. You will want, very badly, to believe that your organization is open and welcoming to everyone and that your employees feel engaged and accepted at every level. Be courageous and ask them if that is indeed the case.

In other words: solicit honest feedback from your team. And (particularly when you’re getting started on this journey) allow these surveys to be anonymous so that employees feel that they can share their experiences without fear.

Flexability has extensive experience in guiding companies through this rewarding journey. Get in touch if you think we can get you started.