Robert Nieminen
Donald Thompson

Adopting DEI Strategies Is Key to Winning in Today’s Talent Market (BOMA 2022)

June 29, 2022
Business leaders can affect change through better feedback, diversity and recruitment initiatives.

With unemployment at 4% and 3.9 million people quitting their jobs every month, it’s an understatement to say that retaining talent is among the top challenges facing business leaders today. Simply put, “businesses that cannot attract, retain and develop great talent are bound to falter or fail.”

That was the message Donald Thompson, CDE, CEO and co-founder of The Diversity Movement, shared with attendees at the 2022 BOMA International Conference & Expo during a Tuesday afternoon education session. Behaviors throughout an organization can create an environment that doesn’t welcome a broad range of individuals, making it difficult to succeed in today’s competitive market.

Fortunately, Thompson said that, from his perspective as a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) advocate and consultant, business leaders have the highest degree of impact for change in their organizations. Citing internal data gathered over the past two years, he identified a through line within the area of talent retention that included three things:

  1. Mentoring;
  2. Career pathing; and
  3. Feedback.

“The reality is we tend to stick with organizations where we feel valued,” Thompson said. And for the next generation of workers, that means ensuring a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and positive recruiting practices.

Job Seekers Demand DEI

Thompson noted that 76% of job seekers today indicate that a diverse workforce is important when evaluating a company and job postings, and 78% say they expect to find DEI information on a company’s LinkedIn page.

Potential candidates from the next generation are looking for companies who are walking the talk and will spend their money with companies that share their values. Gen Z workers also feel that their ideas should be heard and considered by employers, understanding that they might not all be good ones.

A common excuse employers often use to explain their lack of diversity is that they “don’t have a pipeline of diverse candidates,” Thompson recalled. The problem isn’t a lack of candidates, however; it’s with recruitment practices. He noted that most companies ask their existing employee referrals, which limits the pool of candidates to those who are most similar to them. Thompson challenged attendees to intentionally and authentically expand their networks for recruitment, which might be as simple as diversifying your foursome during your next golf outing, for example.

Improving Recruitment Practices

Nearly half of U.S. job seekers say they’ve turned down a job offer because of a bad recruiting experience, Thompson said, adding that the number one deal breaker for candidates considering a job was inappropriate interview questions. The problem, he said, is a proper lack of training for hiring managers.

“How can we get positive experiences if we as leaders don’t tell hiring managers what we expect?” he asked. Having a standard set of key questions and skills that everyone must answer can help reduce people’s natural biases and improve the interview experience for potential candidates.

Thompson also suggested that most companies don’t prepare managers to lead a diverse workforce, which “is awkward at a minimum,” he noted. “We need to create readiness to be successful.”

From creating a website that reflects your organization’s commitment to DEI and hiring practices to seeking feedback and measuring its inclusivity, winning in today’s tight talent market can be challenging. However, Thompson left attendees with this simple word of encouragement: “Focus on progress over perfection.”

To download a copy of “Best Practices Guide to Inclusive Hiring,” visit

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