Welcome back, everyone. As you may recall, last week we discussed the best practices as it relates to recruiting diverse talent. I think a lot of enthusiasm is shown for recruitment because people usually think like with most things, more's better, and if we can get more diverse talent, more might stay. I can mostly agree with that but let's take a deeper dive. Part of the psychology in that position is that DE&I recruiters like you and me invest a lot of time, energy, and sometimes political capital in recruiting highly sought-after diverse talent. Now, we spent all that time recruiting them, only to have them leave sometime soon after they arrive. From a recruiter's viewpoint, if more diversity existed, more of the recruited would be less likely to bounce and that might make our recruitment effort not feel like a waste of time. That's why people like the idea that more is better. Then there is the business side of the equation and why people like retention. As investments go retention is often framed as a cost-saver for organizations because replacing employees that bounce is expensive. From a DE&I lens, the business case for retention means that when you invest in DE&I, you reduce costly turnovers or lawsuits or negative press related to allegations of discrimination. From a business standpoint, retention is a cost-saving strategy, and I agree with that too. But to me, in actual practice, the psychological and business arguments are not compelling. They're rope, never-ending in circular doing them feels like a performance, like a hamster going around and around on a wheel. Neither presents a real retention strategy, one that would address a problem like this. I was talking to our team of professionals the other day and someone asked me a question regarding a segment of our employee population, our custodians. The question regarded how many custodians have professional development challenges that prevented them from being promoted. One such challenge was that, for some, English is not their first language, it had limited proficiency because of that. The person was asking me how do those employees fit into our DE&I retention strategy? She was intimating that inequity issue existed and that it was our responsibility to remove that barrier. How could anyone advance at any organization if they had barriers in communication? Or limited access to technology? Or limited ability to negotiate the technology, even if they did have it? She was asking me, how were our DE&I retention efforts inclusive of all classes of employees, not just the highly or recently recruited? How do we ensure we are creating clear career pathways for persons at the lowest level of the organizational chart, all the way to the highest? See people get excited about recruitment and retention when we're talking about new or our star talent. But no one gets excited when we're talking about our existing or local talent. For higher education, think about the disparity between faculty and staff. For many of us, we look at the employee life cycle of the hardest employees to recruit and set that as our baseline for our DE&I strategy. We imagine what life is like for them, the star employees, from the time they join until the time they leave and imagine what happened in between. Were they supported, developed? Were they given fair opportunities to lead? Did anyone take them under their wing? In other words, we completely ignore the experiences of the majority of the retained employees that we have. Let's address another problem. When we look specifically at the retention of underrepresented talent, we assume that those that have stayed are symbols of our retention success because they chose to stay. But in reality, they may have stayed despite their despise for the organization, despite them feeling abandoned or forgotten about. Imagine anyone, but especially a minority, spinning year stuck in the same place waiting for a career pathway to open up. Find people of color that have long tenures with your organization and ask them what their experience has been. While in many ways this is an HR thing, this is also very much a DE&I thing. For all of these reasons, the ultimate measure of a successful DE&I retention program cannot be to simply retain all of the employees that you recruit. Instead, the measures should be the level of investment made in developing every single one of the people that you bring on board, progressing them upward. People may develop enough talent that they move up and out of the organization. But that isn't an acceptable risk versus the alternative. There is nothing like seeing an employee who has been around for years and is now bitter because of neglect, I would rather the investment being made and the employee leave saying how much they valued being valued than the alternative. The ultimate goal of an inclusive organization and a successful retention effort must be development. An important key to development is ensuring that from the time the employee is hired, they are made aware of the organization's interests in their career pathway. Being methodical and asking what do they want to do with their career and what they need to progress? Make employee development a part of every supervisor's evaluation. Every year they should be evaluated on supporting their employees' career path. Additionally, since retention is directly linked to inclusion, specifically ask supervisors, what they have done to be more inclusive of their employees. This is vital because it creates both the expectation and accountability that you are seeking. To wrap up this conversation about retention efforts, I want you to check out an employer I consider to be one of the best to ever do it. The US military, I know that may be controversial, but they take the top spot because I cannot identify a larger employer with a larger recruitment effort of 18-24-year-olds into highly competitive technical fields like aerospace science, engineering, and IT and required to perform under the most extreme of conditions. With all of that, the average length of enlistment for US Military personnel is just under 15 years for all branches. That's incredible. What is your average length of employment at your organization? One part of the retention strategy is providing world-class benefits, strong pension, retirement plan, medical careful life, housing allowance and the VA loan, money for college and the GI Bill and the list goes on and on. If you ask someone who serves, why did they decide to serve? Nine times out of 10 they will say because of the benefits. Even though their salaries may not be as competitive, especially at the lower ranks. Many argue that it makes up for it and the benefits which are second to none. Ask yourself, how does your organization's benefits stack up to that? Another part of their plan is their messaging. While benefits get employees in the door from boot camp onward, the message to each soldier is that they are part of a team, part of something bigger than themselves. Their message is that every soldier's job is a part of a bigger purpose which allows them to have a shared value and that they're there to support one another. While this is obvious and not rocket science, these messages actually retain folks. Why leave when I feel value relied on and doing something hugely important here? Does your organization have a similar message? Now, of course, development is a huge part of their retention strategy as well. They realized that when people get burned out and bail, it's usually because they work hard without ever being developed. By developing all of their personnel, they're saying that anyone could flourish here, and we're going to teach you all of the hard and soft skills that you need to do so, by the way, we fully appreciate the fact that these skills will help you transition to civilian life, and we are happy to help you do see that. They can point to career pathways to give hope. Everyone starts at the bottom and is promoted upward. No one is plucked from private and made a general. You must be able to point to a successful career pathway where someone traveled from the bottom box on the organizational chart to the top. Can you do that? Lastly, they adapt. Admittedly, they are sometimes slow to adapt, and oftentimes it's painful to watch when they do. But think about the impact the military had on American life when an integrated in the 1940s. While blunders such as don't ask, don't tell, and the relegation of women to non-combat roles were and still are evidence that more adaptation is needed every day, the most damning thing I hear about the military now is how woke it is and how it is adapting to having a more diverse workforce. How is your organization adapting? How do you know if they're meeting the needs and expectation of a changing workforce? In regard to retention, I hope I've given you something to think about, so I won't retain you any further until next week.