Benefits to Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Staff
Recruiting and retaining a diverse staff can make a very real difference in organizational effectiveness. Many organizations find that there are countless benefits to recruiting and retaining a diverse staff, and that there can be significant costs to not recruiting and retaining a diverse staff. (See Bibliography: Cox)
A diverse staff is more likely to understand the assets and needs of diverse clients or constituents and, therefore, is more likely to be able to design and execute programs that meet the needs of diverse constituents.
As demographics in most communities are changing, a diverse staff is more likely to recognize changing needs in various population groups and be able to have an effect on an organization's continued relevance.
A diverse staff will usually be able to provide better, more culturally appropriate customer service.
A diverse staff is generally more effective at developing communications strategies to help an organization communicate effectively with diverse audiences (e.g., diverse donors, community leaders, and strategic partners).
Organizations that proactively address issues of inclusiveness and that have diverse staffs have been shown to be more effective at problem solving. Specifically, when an organization values minority viewpoints, the organization usually develops a larger number of alternative solutions to problems and more thoroughly examines the assumptions and implications of alternative scenarios. (See Bibliography: Cox)
A diverse staff is more likely to reap the benefits of creativity and innovation. A 1996 study by McLeod, Lobel & Cox found that racially diverse groups were 11 percent more likely to come up with creative ideas than all white groups. The study evaluated an idea's creativity not only relative to overall effectiveness but also in terms of whether the idea could feasibly be implemented. (See Bibliography: Cox)
Note, however, that though the above benefits are often experienced by organizations that strive to recruit and retain a diverse staff, one cannot assume that any single individual of color will have a deep understanding of all communities of color, or of the sub-communities and nuances within any one racial/ethnic group. Expecting one individual to speak for all other people of color can be frustrating for the individual and can weaken an organization's ability to become more fully inclusive.
Not surprisingly, there are also a number of costs that can be associated with failing to recruit and retain a diverse staff. Some of the costs can be measured in actual dollars - others cannot.