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Building a Diverse Team for the Long Term

Diverse Fundraising Team

In their Harvard Business Reviewarticle, authors Matt Sigelman and Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. recommend organizations invest in raising up diverse talent from within to make meaningful progress in building inclusivity and equity. One very promising tool for promoting diversity is reskilling employees so they can move into jobs that are currently predominantly white or male. Most people build careers step by step, skill by skill. By understanding how competencies overlap or are proximate to one another, employers can create targeted training to support employees in bridging the skills and diversity gaps.

Businesses need to do five things to make this happen:

  1. Don’t just track representation, track mobility. To evaluate progress toward a truly inclusive culture, track who is moving up within the firm. If employees are choosing to stay and advance their careers, that’s a good indication that they feel respected.
  2. Benchmark actionable goals. New data sources such as LinkedIn and Burning Glass mine the online profiles of tens of millions of workers to offer benchmarks for specific peers, roles, and locations to ensure greater actionability.
  3. Identify reservoirs of talent. Understanding not only the demographics of each pool of workers but also their skills allows you to highlight the specific learning and promotion pathways to help workers advance.
  4. Assess the health of your pipeline. How many diverse candidates do you have at each level? Knowing where your bench is thin shines a spotlight on bottlenecks to promoting from within and enables you to focus your efforts.
  5. Build talent escalators to advance diversity. To identify a more diverse set of “feeder” jobs for each role, compare the requirements to see adjacent talent pools that may not be obvious — and the skills that will bridge the gap between them. That will enable you to invest in training resources to support the transition. Remember that employees need a map to understand promotion options and the skills that will enable them to move up.


Overall, companies can grow the diverse talent of their team by investing in the mobility of their employees while also continuing to make external hires. Such a sustainable and organic approach offers the best chance at building cultures that are truly inclusive and equitable.

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