Minority Report

Less hiring in general, but companies still seeking out non-white workers.

According to a recent CareerBuilder poll, only 55 percent of managers expect to hire new employees this year. But despite the grim outlook for the hiring scene, companies are still striving to field diverse workforces. According to a recent New York Times job market study, two-thirds of companies surveyed said they are actively recruiting minority job candidates.

The tough part of maintaining a diverse workforce seems to be getting minority employees to stay: 27 percent of hiring managers in the Times study reported that the attrition rate among their company’s minority workers is higher than that of non-minority employees.

To address the issue, 14 percent of hiring managers in the survey said their companies have implemented retention programs that are specifically designed to hold on to minority employees. Fifty-five percent of hiring managers cited affinity groups as useful for minority-employee retention.

Such targeted programs seem to work. In another study by consultancy Best Practices, 82 percent of companies that used similar programs to advance the careers of women employees reported an increase in the promotions of female workers; 64 percent of the companies reported more women in senior management.

Another key to retention is participation by senior management, according to the Times survey. Almost all hiring managers (92 percent) at companies with established diversity programs say their senior management teams strongly support workplace diversity as a corporate goal. Most (72 percent) of the respondents also said senior executives include diversity initiatives in their business strategies. Specifically, senior executives make it a point in communications with employees and the business community that workplace diversity is a top priority.

They also put their money where their mouths are: 65 percent set aside funds for diversity recruitment and retention programs.

Out of Work? Join a Support Group

That’s what laid-off executives in one California community did. The San Leandro Chamber of Commerce recently formed the Executive Employment Search Support Group, whose members get together once a week to network and exchange job tips.

Rick Snow, a controller who’s been out of work since September, gave the San Leo County Times this tip: Always accept a drink of water or other refreshment if the interviewer offers. “It makes you seem like you’re a part of things.”

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