While 75% of Americans support diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace1 most diversity programs do little to increase diversity. Some initiatives, like mandatory training, tests, and grievance systems, have been shown to decrease retention of target groups2.

The good news is, some initiatives have been found to statistically improve retention and diversity, such as targeted college recruitment programs, mentorship, and diversity task forces. (For more details – see the linked study titled “Why Diversity Programs Fail” for more insight into why some initiatives may work better than others.) OFCCP requires federal contractors to make good faith efforts to address identified underutilization for minorities, females, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans.

If you take the time to make some efforts – make sure you choose ones that will not backfire and have the best chance of success. Consider the three initiatives below to make meaningful changes in your efforts.

  • External Efforts – Identify Outreach Volunteers (start here)

Determine who is willing to volunteer for outreach:

    • Determine if your company currently supports any organizations related to your goals – if none, pick one to start and give yourself the task to contact them by the end of the day.
    • Invite employees to voluntarily participate in targeted career fairs/college recruitment programs.
  • Internal Efforts – Create a Formal Mentorship Program

This is a key to upward mobility and retention. Important note- this should be voluntary for all involved and mentees should be assigned (mentors should not be able to choose their mentee). Although this task takes more than a day, it is a big step toward diversity across all levels of your organization.

  • Organization & Accountability – Diversity Task Forces

Diversity task forces promote accountability. Presidents or high-level executives should assemble these teams, inviting department heads to volunteer, including members of underrepresented groups. Periodically, task forces should review diversity numbers companywide, including departments and AAP job groups, to determine what needs attention. It is critical to have a motived executive/administrator in charge of the diversity task force to ensure the proper time, attention, and questions are asked to create change.

It is important to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to increasing diversity in the workplace, and diversity programs take time to gain traction and results. The process outlined above is meant to be a framework rather than a total solution to increase diversity inside your company. For more information about diversity efforts that can positively impact your organization, please reach out to Kairos’ Director of Compliance, Nicolas Paul. You may also visit Kairos’ client portal to view and download supporting materials to assist you with your diversity initiatives.

  1. Newport, Frank. (2020). Affirmative Action and Public Opinion. Gallup, Inc. https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/317006/affirmative-action-public-opinion.aspx
  2. Dobbin, F. & Kalev, A. (2016). Human Resource Management. Why Diversity Programs Fail. And what works better. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail