An effective strategy in the battle to find diverse talent

To ensure that diversity in the workforce prevails, our industry needs to devote efforts to recruit, develop, and retain talented minorities. There are many top-line methods to doing so.

To ensure that diversity in the workforce prevails, our industry needs to devote efforts to recruit, develop, and retain talented minorities. There are many top-line methods to doing so.

A good start is partnering with and sponsoring multicultural trade groups like the Black Public Relations Society or the Hispanic Public Relations Society of America, among many others.

Schools with a high population of diverse students also make strong partners. Such institutions include Howard University, NYU, the University of Washington, Northwestern University, and the University of Texas-Austin. The Cal State University system, with its 32 campuses, is the biggest university state system with the largest diversity population. Companies should take part in career fairs, panel discussions, and speaking engagements at these institutions.

Educational groups that target minority students can also help on this front. Such entities include the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Indian College Fund, or The Lagrant Foundation.

Another helpful step is developing an internship, scholarship, or mentorship program specifically targeting prospective multicultural employees. And, of course, social media is a good avenue, specifically multicultural Web sites such as Diversity.monster.com, LatPro.com, and Blackplanet.com.

Developing skills is as important as recruiting the diverse PR talent. As with all young staffers, companies must ensure employees are aware of the possibility for growth and promotion to roles of influence.

Employers can create their own internal programs or universities that will enhance the skills of their ethnic minority staffers. Organizations must also look to enhance their CSR initiatives and reach out to minority community-based groups.

Retaining top talent is always a challenge, and it's no different with diverse pros. A good, basic step is recognizing legal holidays celebrated by ethnic minorities. This will show staff that a company is knowledgeable of their culture and sensitive to their heritage.

Companies would also do well by profiling their high-ranking multicultural employees amongst their staff and display their gratitude and dedication to the organization. It is also beneficial for companies to partner with affinity groups and show their staffers they are committed to a specific cause.

Mentorship programs also help with talent retention. Pairing a senior executive with a junior-level associate will encourage the latter to excel in their duties and gear them toward a successful path.

Kim Hunter is president and CEO of Lagrant Communications. He is also the founder and chairman of The Lagrant Foundation.

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