Change is upon us. From the lumber industry to the most tech-savvy start-up — and everything in between — organizations are witnessing a new evolution in how people choose and engage in work. Individuals are realigning, resetting and re-establishing their priorities to balance their personal well-being with their careers. While some prefer more flexibility in scheduling, others are opting for a change in career altogether. In either case, companies are challenged with creating nontraditional ways of attracting and retaining employees in a job market that favors employees.

McKinsey & Company recently reported that approximately 19 million U.S. employees have left the workforce since April 2021. That number is projected to continue growing for the next 12 months. While employers who are falling prey to the impact of the “Great Resignation” may name various reasons for voluntary attrition, the lack of progression in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts remains high on the list. This presents continued opportunities for DEI, human resources (HR) and learning and development (L&D) practitioners to champion the case for DEI in business operations, particularly when attracting and retaining great talent.

The Role of Diversity in Talent Attraction and Retention

Diversity is about understanding, embracing and celebrating the unique differences that exist within our companies, communities and circles of influence. One strategy your company might use to support its ongoing case for diversity, specifically in talent attraction and retention, is to explore the unique differences and similarities that exist among your internal and external customers. To optimize diversity among your internal and external customers, consider:

  • Cultural differences and similarities.
  • Percentage of underrepresented or marginalized customers.
  • Methods used to understand, embrace and celebrate differences and similarities in branding, recruitment and engagement materials.

Thinking through these considerations can offer three advantages:

  1. Greater insight into the kind of talent your organization needs to advance innovation and expand market share.
  2. Better opportunities to prepare managers for inclusive leadership.
  3. Increased awareness of how to engage existing stakeholders in welcoming and engaging new talent.


The Role of Equity in Talent Attraction and Retention

Equally important to identifying the differences and similarities of your internal and external customers is understanding their unique needs. For example, some external customers may need access to your products and services to enhance their quality of life, while others may simply want to engage with your company because of its brand power. On the other hand, the needs of internal customers may revolve around a fulfilling employee experience. Some might take great pleasure in driving the company’s mission and need access to tools and resources to better perform their jobs while others may need access to a clear career path to ensure a return in their investment. In either case, equity should be examined based on the individual needs of your customers rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

The Role of Inclusion in Talent Attraction and Retention

If diversity is about exploring differences (and similarities), inclusion is about accepting those differences. The role of inclusion in attracting and retaining talent has expanded well beyond the HR team and the hiring manager. In fact, job seekers are searching employee reviews to determine whether a company is serious about creating an inclusive workforce. While inclusion has always been an important factor in an employee’s success at work, both candidates and tenured staff are more vocal about their sense of belonging (or lack of) in their companies and among their work teams.

Leveraging inclusion in talent attraction and retention requires a measure of civility. While our perspectives on work and life may differ, our responsibility to remain civil in every situation speaks volumes about our ability to embrace an inclusive workforce. The more we create work cultures where employees feel welcomed, valued, supported and appreciated, the more we’ll attract and retain the best talent.