Cover: Talent Management and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Private-Sector Organizations

Talent Management and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Private-Sector Organizations

A Qualitative Review of Promising Practices

Published Feb 23, 2023

by Devon Hill, Kirsten M. Keller, Monica Rico, Melissa Shostak, Miriam Matthews

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Research Questions

  1. What does the academic literature reveal about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workforce?
  2. What practices are employed at private-sector organizations that are known for workforce DEI?
  3. Which private-sector practices are supported by the academic literature?

To support the Department of the Air Force's (DAF's) goal of building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, researchers reviewed the academic literature and conducted interviews with representatives from private-sector organizations that were ranked as top employers for diversity. The authors detail promising practices regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in talent management that might be relevant to DAF efforts.

Key Findings

  • Defining DEI and socializing those definitions can help to provide workforces with a common foundation for other practices.
  • Organizational DEI strategies often include both internal goals, such as increasing representation and creating inclusive environments, and external ones, such as making efforts to improve supplier chain diversity and supporting community engagement.
  • Organizations use DEI oversight boards and officers who help administer policy, provide clear lines of responsibility, and help to ensure accountability.
  • Measures of progress continue to focus on traditional measures of representation or participation rather than changes in knowledge, skills, or behaviors.
  • Organizations engage in specific efforts to help foster an inclusive culture, which is viewed as critical to their ability to be top-performing companies.
  • There has been a trend to include more voluntary, self-guided, and experiential DEI trainings.
  • Organizations take a multipronged approach to outreach and recruiting for diversity, including partnerships with minority-serving institutions, nonprofits, and career- or skill-specific entities to help build diverse youth talent pools.
  • Organizations sponsor employee resource groups to provide additional avenues for employee support and development and additional recruiting of a diverse workforce.
  • Leadership development programs involve networking sessions with C-suite-level executives, ongoing mentorship by an executive, and a capstone event.

Research conducted by

The research reported here was commissioned by DAF-A1 and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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