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Equitable policies will help you retain top talent

Written by: Sophie Warwick.

Even with some industries reducing workforces, we are still seeing impacts from the Great Resignation in many others. A lot of employers are still struggling to retain top talent. While there are numerous strategies to build engagement in the workforce and retain high performing employees, an often forgotten approach is developing impactful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies.

In this article we’ll share how investing in meaningful DEI policies and programs improves retention and engagement of all employees.

More than 75% of the global workforce is signaling a willingness to walk away from employers that don’t have a DEI policy or fail to deal with gender-biased pay practices (ADP, 2022). Historically, in many industries inclusive policies have been seen as a bonus rather than a necessary workplace policy. However, the tides are shifting, and employees are going to greater lengths to find employers whose values align with their own. This pattern is magnified for women workers who are more likely to prioritize DEI policies within their workplace. A study by Lean In found that women are over 1.5 times more likely than men to have left a job because they want to work for an employer who is more committed to DEI (2022). Thoughtful and intentional DEI policies are the foundation of building an inclusive workplace. With more states and provinces introducing legislation around pay equity, we are seeing important change but more needs to be done at an employer level.

Minorities within groups are more likely to report burnout than those within the majority (Forbes, 2019). Representation and diversity matter when it comes to burnout and stress management. There are a variety of factors that lead to minorities experiencing greater degrees of burnout. Some of the most commonly reported reasons are:

  • A lack of community and sense of belonging at work (identity not reflected in the team).

  • Experiencing more frequent questioning of expertise (the way they present doesn’t meet expectations of an individual in that field. For example, when asked to picture an engineer, many would picture a man).

  • Missing deserved opportunities for promotion or compensation (the similarity bias encourages us to see future potential in those who are similar to us and baseline capability in those who are dissimilar).

  • Being a minority is emotionally taxing (combination of feeling different at work because of gender, race and/or ethnicity and the associated implications on thriving at work).

In order to retain our employees, we need to reduce levels of burnout.

43% of women leaders are burned out compared to 31% of men at the same level (McKinsey, 2022). Women are typically underrepresented in leadership positions, even in more equitable industries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that women makeup almost 70% of the health and social workforce but are estimated to hold only 25% of senior roles (WHO, 2021). As a result, they are more likely to experience burnout and be at a greater risk of departure. If we want to retain women in leadership positions, we need to establish DEI policies that reduce biases and ensure equitable pay policies, promotion opportunities, and access to professional development.

Equitable policies create a fair playing field for everyone. So much of the work done to make policies more equitable really enables a fair working environment for everyone - from objective hiring practices, to standardized performance evaluations, to structured compensation processes. When employees see their human resources policies and programs as fair, and that they will be evaluated objectively based on their skills, it creates an environment where top performers can thrive. The knock-on impact for the entire workforce can be significant.

Find opportunities to improve retention and engagement by combatting the inequities minorities experience in the workplace. We know employees who feel a greater sense of belonging are less likely to experience burnout and are more likely to be engaged in the workplace. Employees who are engaged are more likely to stay at their companies over the long-term and perform better. We all show up more powerfully and perform better when we are able to be our true selves at work. Thoughtful DEI policies and programs foster an environment that empowers everyone to contribute ideas without pressure to conform to a majority.


Check out the first two articles of our gender equity series Five Ways Gender Equity Improves Company Financials and Diversity Fuels Innovation. If you would like to learn how we help employers retain women and other top talent, please email us at ​We advise companies on impactful implementation and management of ERGs to ensure they have the tools to create positive and meaningful change. Our goal is to create structures that allow women to thrive over their full career.


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