Organizations have historically shunted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work to their talent acquisition teams—but that strategy does not work, two top HR leaders confirmed in a recent event hosted by Glint, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, and LinkedIn Learning Solutions.  

Hiring is only one part of an organization’s strategy to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, Nielson Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisition Melissa Thompson and Dropbox Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Danny Guillory said.

“We can’t solve the problem with more and more hiring,” Melissa said. “We have to solve it around retention, engagement, and hiring.”

Indeed recent Glint data insights show that employee happiness at work depends on whether they feel a sense of belonging. Organizations risk losing employees who are part of underrepresented minority groups if they don’t provide needed support like connection, career-growth opportunities, and inclusive environments.

Melissa, Danny and LinkedIn moderator Jacqueline Jones zeroed in on Black employees’ experiences, pointing to recent research showing 58% of Black professionals face racial prejudice at work, and 49% report unfair treatment in hiring, pay, and promotion

So what can organizations do to improve their DEI strategies? Melissa and Danny stressed that organizations will start to see results when they create broad, cross-functional partnerships. 

Top leaders need to emphasize the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity work

Danny said Dropbox developed a company-wide, executive-backed set of goals for equitable representation of underrepresented minorities and women. 

“When you have that as a focus from the CEO level on down, it makes a difference in terms of the attention people pay to things,” he said.

At Nielson, executives have recently put their words into action by hosting listening sessions with 12-15 people at a time, Melissa said. The result is that employees have expressed a sense of feeling heard and have followed up with executives to establish an ongoing line of communication. 

When the HR functions unite, progress accelerates 

DEI teams almost always have to leverage other functions within HR, like talent acquisition, employee engagement, and learning and development, to help their organization see positive results.

“We have to have great partnerships with all of our other peers within the HR organization,” Danny said.

Dropbox has leveraged a strong people analytics function to help launch an effort Danny called “stay interviews.” For this project, the team first identified employees from underrepresented minority groups who were most likely to leave the company. They then conducted interviews with each one to better understand what that employee would need to stay at Dropbox. By the end of the program, the organization saw a 96% retention rate of the 200 employees they had identified as likely to leave.

Dropbox’s DEI and Learning and Development teams have also partnered closely to track whether employees from underrepresented minority groups are participating at equitable rates in important learning programs like executive, leadership, and management development. In addition, Danny said the two functions collaborate on organization-wide learning content to incorporate themes like inclusive leadership and inclusive principles. 

Last year Nielson took on the issues of retention and career-growth opportunities with its Black employee population by partnering with the Black employee resource group. In its program “Your Career is a Jungle Gym,” Black leaders within the organization demystified the idea that career paths should always have upward, “ladder-like” trajectories. Instead, employees may find opportunities in other directions.

Melissa said Nielson is also getting HR business partners (HRBPs) involved earlier in the employee lifecycle. That way the HRBPs can start thinking about how to engage and retain employees from underrepresented minority groups once they’ve been hired.

Expand metrics beyond just the talent pipeline

DEI metrics should not be limited to the number of people from underrepresented minority groups who become job candidates, both Melissa and Danny said. Organizations should set DEI goals across all functions and lines of business, from employee retention to compensation, benefits, executive-level representation and beyond. 

“Have a metric for what the end game looks like, and it can’t just be recruiting.” Melissa said. “It has to be broader than that.”

Click on the image below to listen to the entire conversation, and check out Glint’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Playbook.