Most business leaders understand the importance of having a diverse workforce, but many fail when it comes to inclusion, says a new article from Harvard Business Review. Employees who differ from most of their colleagues in religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background or generation often hide important parts of themselves at work for fear of negative consequences, says author Karen Brown, founder and managing partner of Bridge Arrow, a diversity and inclusion management consulting firm. This makes it difficult to know how they feel and what they want, she says, which can lead them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Brown stresses the need for inclusion—creating an environment where people can be who they are, that values their unique talents and perspectives, and makes them want to stay. Among her best practices:

  • When using employee engagement surveys, segment the data you collect by criteria such as gender, ethnicity, generation, geography, tenure and role in the organization. This will help you identify issues among smaller groups that could be leading to attrition, as the views of the majority overpower those of minorities.
  • Conduct focus groups using independent facilitators who don’t have a vested interest in the outcome so that employees can speak freely.
  • Get personal in one-on-one discussions. Brown recommends having an open-door policy and trying to exude a “tell me anything” persona, perhaps by sharing your own vulnerabilities.

See the full HBR article: “To Retain Employees, Focus on Inclusion — Not Just Diversity