The Influence Of Diversity On Resignation Choices

28th Jul 2023

Most blog posts on diversity in the workplace revolve around hiring. It makes sense, and it's a great place to start. But diversity is part of daily work life, too, including resignations. Let's talk about that. 

The global workspace is changing shape. Remote work, resignations, reforms, and an influx of self-employed workers all play a part, but so do DEI efforts – or the lack thereof.

It's one of the most overlooked motives for people to leave a company, switch employers and join a more diverse and inclusive team. Overlooked is an important word here: bringing this reason up in exit interviews or resignation letters is not yet common practice. Nevertheless, it's an employer's job to uncover these issues and tackle them head first.
So let's look at the connection between diversity and resignation choices and how both employers and employees can handle this.

Beyond ‘The Great Resignation’ 

The workforce is evolving. Employees, more than ever, have grown more conscious of their personal identities and how they want them to influence their professional journeys. 

That means diversity, in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and more, is something they look for and even try to build. It influences where they apply and where they resign from.

The Great Resignation has been explained in many ways: people want to work remotely after the pandemic; they can get higher-paying jobs, leave fields that drained them or pursue a career as a self-employed worker for ultimate freedom and autonomy. 

But an undesirable corporate culture, including an inability to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, plays a huge role. When looking at attrition rates – a metric that measures how many employees that leave a company aren't replaced, a toxic corporate culture affects this number 10.4 times more than compensation does. 

As if you’d need any more reasons to diversify your team: racially and ethnically diverse teams consistently outperform their less diverse peers, and the same goes for gender diversity. companies in the highest quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 36% more likely to perform better than fourth-quartile companies.

Moreover, employees at already diverse and inclusive companies are 19% more likely to stay. These stats just show that diversity shouldn't be the only concern when hiring – because, for job seekers, it goes beyond that. If employers want their people to stay, they need to get serious about DEI. And that's without even highlighting the impact of diversity on profitability.

How employers can spot diversity issues before they fuel resignations

Employers often can only read between the lines in resignation letters to find the true reason for someone leaving. But there's much more they can do to spot diversity issues – before anyone resigns. 

First of all: look around. Is leadership predominantly one demographic? How about the representation at other levels?

Then, dive deeper into turnover data. Is there a specific demographic group that has a higher turnover rate? How has this been explained before, and how did management come to that conclusion? 

It's also crucial to ask employees for feedback and to take complaints seriously. When a lack of diversity, discrimination, or bias comes up, this should ring alarm bells that require action.

Lastly, check engagement and satisfaction levels. These can reveal whether employees feel valued and included – but don't look at the average score. Check the scores of different demographics separately and make use of our DEI tracker to help you uncover whether there are "hidden" diversity-related problems.

What employers should do if employees resign over DEI issues

If an employee openly states diversity as the reason for leaving, or if these issues come to light any other way, consider it a loud wake-up call. Here’s what to keep in mind when responding to situations like this:

  • Acknowledge the issue: accept that there’s a problem. Don't dismiss the claim or ignore it. 
  • Investigate properly: it helps to get a fresh set of eyes in, unbiased and independent. Seeking external assistance shows you take the issue seriously.
  • Implement changes: don't sit on the recommendations from the investigation. If clear points of action are revealed, make them a priority – before the issue becomes even bigger. A change of policies, training on DEI, restructuring of teams: follow the recommendations and the feedback you get from employees.
  • Communicate clearly: if possible, let  the departing employee about the steps you're taking to show them that their concerns were taken seriously and have sparked change. Address the topic with all other employees, too – DEI is all about involving everyone, so do exactly that.

Hiring a more diverse workforce

Of course, a must-take step is to hire a more diverse workforce. We've got some great tips for you on meaningful changes you can make to promote diversity and inclusion. Ultimately, building a diverse workforce starts with building an inclusive mindset. Here are a few steps towards achieving that:

  • Create a diversity and inclusion strategy: establish a clear plan outlining your diversity goals and the actions needed to achieve them.
  • Review your hiring process: ensure your job descriptions are inclusive and that you're reaching a diverse pool of candidates. Rethink criteria that may unintentionally exclude certain groups. Consider offering remote work to expand your pool of candidates.
  • Implement diversity training: regularly train employees and managers on diversity and inclusion and the benefits they bring.
  • Promote a culture of inclusion: create an environment where all employees feel safe and encouraged to express their ideas and experiences.
  • Track your progress: use metrics to assess the effectiveness of your diversity efforts.

Creating a diverse company isn't a one-time achievement it should always be on the agenda. A clear strategy and the right tools make this easier.

If you're serious about hiring a more diverse team, Deel can help you handle with their payroll and compliance. You can onboard employees and contractors in minutes and pay them in 150+ countries.

Creating a truly inclusive and diverse workplace culture

Diversity should be a company-wide effort rather than a HR initiative. If you want to prevent resignations over lack of diversity, don't just build diverse teams – celebrate them. Here's how:

  • Engage leadership: leadership must take an active role in promoting diversity and inclusivity, setting the tone for the rest of the company.
  • Educate employees: regular diversity and inclusion training can help all team members understand the value of a diverse workforce and their role in supporting it.
  • Promote collaboration: encourage collaboration across diverse teams to break down silos and stereotypes.
  • Celebrate differences: acknowledge and celebrate different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences within your team.

Remember: it's not just about having a diverse workforce, but making sure everyone feels included and valued and making the most of the diversity you have.

Incorporating diversity into your resignation process

It may sound like a bold move, but it’s not. Creating an inclusive environment starts with hiring and onboarding, but it should go all the way to people leaving your company. This could mean providing clear guidelines and offering sample resignation letters to make the process more transparent and less stressful for departing employees, and shows there's room for their reasons to leave.

A sample resignation letter can guide them in expressing their motives, while maintaining professionalism and respect. It gives a clear opportunity to request feedback on their experience at your company. See it as a framework that encourages open communication, that makes the process easier for everyone. 

Here is a simplified example:

[Your Name]

[Your Current Position]

[Today's Date]

[Recipient's Name]

[Recipient's Position]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to formally resign from my position at [Your Company], effective [last working day, typically two weeks from the date of the letter].

I have greatly appreciated the opportunities and experiences I've gained here, but I've decided to move forward due to [reason for leaving - e.g., personal circumstances, new opportunities, career development, etc.].

In the remaining time, I am fully committed to transferring my responsibilities as smoothly as possible. I am more than willing to assist in the transition.

Please consider this letter as my constructive feedback, and I hope it contributes to further developing a conducive and inclusive working environment for everyone.

Thank you for your understanding.


[Your Name]

By enabling diverse employees to voice their experiences, you can start working on a better workforce. Sending out anonymous surveys after their resignation can also help bring more feedback to light.

Looking ahead: embracing diversity in the workplace

Diversity is more than just a metric to be achieved. It's not about ticking boxes. Instead, it’s about enriching our experiences and perspectives.