HR Management & Compliance

Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

Resources for Humans managing editor Celeste Blackburn reviews Natalie Holder-Winfield’s book Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce: New Rules for a New Generation.

In the foreword to Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, Natalie Holder-Winfield reveals how she left a successful practice with a well-known law firm to join eight other women to create a firm where their diversity would be celebrated and utilized. While she reveals that she left her firm to pursue a dream, the other women left because they “could not wait to escape.”  These women were left out of social networks, passed over for plum assignments, and generally treated like second-class citizens at the office.

Those stories, combined with an American Bar Association study that showed that “almost 85 % of women of color leave their law firms within eight years of being hired,” led her to begin thinking about minorities in other fields and if they experienced the same disassociation as the lawyers. She writes: “As I thought about writing this book, the number one goal was awareness. I wanted to go beyond the [group of partners] to see if people in other professions encountered similar adversity and how they handled it.”
Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

Another experience that helped shaped this book for Holder-Winfield was putting together a diversity program for a law firm in New Orleans. Through that experience, she began to realize that while there were precious few materials on diversity available, there practically were none that spoke to diversity from the perspective of Generations X and Y (and the ones that did were written by people decades away from being a part of those generations).

To that end, Holder-Winfield assembled more than 50 hours of interviews with various professionals — both long-term vets and rising stars. Her book is a collection of their stories followed by advice for employers dealing with similar situations. Sometimes, the stories themselves act as advice (both for an employer trying to create a positive work environment and for employees struggling with theirs) when those telling them have found ways to navigate and circumvent the road blocks put up in their careers because they are minorities.

Holder-Winfield’s real-world anecdotes and insightful advice make this book a good read for anyone struggling with the issues of diversity in the workplace.

Celeste Blackburn is managing editor of HR Insight and Diversity Insight. She has taught composition at the collegiate level and worked as a journalist.