How to Build a Diverse Workforce and Why It Matters

Marie Brooks, Director of People and Culture at Montage Marketing Group

Having a diverse workforce is beneficial for a company’s culture and employee retention. How is it achieved, sustained, and fostered? To explore this question, we turned to Marie Brooks, Montage’s Director of People and Culture. Continue reading to tap into insights from her 17-year career in Human Resources and substantial knowledge on successfully recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.

The idea of diversity means so many things to so many people. When I think about a diverse workforce, I envision people from various ethnic and racial groups, gender identities, physical abilities, and educational backgrounds, to name a few. Throughout my career, I have aimed to continuously encourage and enable diversity on behalf of companies and organizations. Here, I will discuss a few suggestions and guidelines to increase diversity in your workforce and leadership roles. First, let us start with why diversity is so important and how companies can work to foster it.  

Benefits of a Diverse Workforce

Having a diverse workforce can bring new perspectives to any company. When employees from different socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and abilities work together, it brings something magical into an organization.

Imagine your current workforce. Is it a place that cultivates and embraces creativity and innovation when building and delivering products or services? That is what most companies strive to accomplish. However, they may not know that one step to achieving that can be as simple as having a diverse workforce.

Differences in backgrounds and experiences can spark creativity and innovation. Think about a team developing a revolutionary new mobile device. When people with various viewpoints work together, the ensuing collaboration and understanding can lead to dreaming and imagining new concepts and ideas. This process fuels creativity which can ultimately lead to innovation.

Another benefit of working within a diverse group is increased awareness and sensitivity to other cultures and abilities. Collaborating with people different from ourselves offers a significant opportunity for growth. Learning and trying to understand different traditions and beliefs is a great start to building an inclusive workplace. Employees should not only embrace differences but also look past them to find similarities between them and their colleagues.

How to Build a Diverse Workforce

Now that you know some of the benefits of having a diverse workforce, you need to know how to create one. That journey starts with recruitment.


Hiring a diverse workforce is extremely important to many Human Resources professionals and companies. Your recruitment strategies should include best practices for finding candidates from various backgrounds. These go beyond posting a job vacancy on an online job board. You must be intentional about how you source and where. Posting jobs online on popular job boards may result in a diverse applicant pool, but only by chance. For a more methodical approach, devise a recruitment plan that includes proactive sourcing and postings to diverse job boards.

Begin by looking at your current workforce demographics and determining the percentage of various groups or categories, such as gender and race. Note if there are any underrepresented groups, then look to diversify your workforce accordingly. Incorporate your diverse hiring goals from the start of the recruitment process and pursue proactive sourcing.

When conducting proactive sourcing, you are actively searching for prospects based on your search criteria. For instance, you can use Boolean searching techniques, which are easily accessible through Google or LinkedIn, to narrow down prospects by utilizing specific syntax parameters. It does take some practice, but it can be a useful, free resource in your recruiting efforts. Additionally, you can proactively source prospects on LinkedIn by searching member profiles. LinkedIn also offers a paid recruitment plan that allows for more customizable search criteria and access to over one billion of their members but at a considerable cost.

Another alternative is posting to diverse job boards that cater to your specific target markets. These types of job boards expose your job vacancy to your desired candidates, reaching them directly instead of by chance. Here are a few diverse job sites to consider:

  • iHispano
  • Black Career Network
  • LGBT Connect
  • Recruit Disability
  • Recruit Military
  • Workforce50

Typically these job boards include a fee, but the cost can be justified to reach a specific pool of applicants.

While targeting specific groups of candidates can increase your chances of finding a qualified person who contributes to the diversity of your workforce, remember that you need to hire based on qualifications, not the demographics of the candidate. You must give every applicant an equal opportunity when hiring for the position.


Now that you have worked hard to diversify your applicant pool and choose the most qualified candidate, how do you keep your new hire engaged for the long term? The best way to retain your talent is to foster diversity and inclusivity within your organization’s culture. This can be achieved by encouraging an understanding of differences.

Here at Montage, for example, we celebrate and support various cultures by hosting celebrations during cultural awareness months, such as Black History Month and PRIDE Month. These observances provide an opportunity and safe place for employees who want to share information about their identity or culture. They can include informational presentations, open dialogue, field trips to relevant museums, exchanging traditional recipes, and a variety of other activities to promote learning and exchange. These opportunities bring employees closer together and promote a sense of belonging, creating bonds within and between employee groups.

Another strategy to implement is the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups bring together employees who share commonalities, like people of color or women, and provide a supportive environment to discuss their similarities as well as the challenges they may face in the workplace. ERGs can discuss ways to overcome those challenges and identify actions the company can take to improve culture and support diverse employee retention, including providing advancement opportunities. While relationships often naturally form between people from similar backgrounds, ERGs allow for what is typically an informal phenomenon to become an active and welcoming support system promoted by the company. This can also help new hires find and connect with peers who share similar identities and experiences.


Dedicated recruitment and retention efforts are critical to creating a diverse workforce, but visibility and success at all levels require finding ways to progress performance and promote diverse leadership. As with hiring, you should not promote someone solely based on their demographic profile. You should, however, make opportunities available and equitable for all employees and eliminate any biases that could factor into your decision-making process. 

When you want to promote employees to a higher-level position, first communicate the opportunity to your existing diverse workforce. Make sure the opportunity is promoted physically and digitally through posters in break rooms, email blasts, or chat/intranet messages. Share the job criteria with them and consider conversations about mapping their current qualifications to the new role. Ongoing internal mentorship is another practical way to ensure that employees are progressing and ready to seize new opportunities as they arise. 

You can also develop an internal hiring program that places employees in next-level positions or rotates them into different roles within a given department. Montage often applies this approach within its Client Service team.

Just like external hiring, you need to promote based on qualifications, not based on the diversity of the candidate. You must give every eligible employee an equal opportunity to be considered for the position. By widening the pool of employees, you are increasing the chances of promoting a qualified, diverse candidate.

In Conclusion

The suggestions and guidelines I have shared can be used to increase diversity in your workforce and leadership roles. To be as successful as possible, you must first devise a recruitment plan that aligns with your company’s goals and makes sense for your industry. This should be executed by skilled Human Resources personnel with the full support of the company’s leaders. Over time, the implementation of these practices will contribute to a welcoming, engaged, and innovative, diverse workforce with a flourishing culture of dialogue and respect.