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These days, it would be next to impossible to read the news without coming across a story about the “Great Resignation.” As a senior executive in the human resources industry, I know the phenomenon is real. Each month, millions of workers leave their jobs in pursuit of higher pay, more flexible working conditions and work-life balance. As empowering as this moment has been for so many workers, I also know that too many do not have the ability to seek opportunities for personal and professional growth, and that the people who lack those opportunities are disproportionately people of color.

Companies that want to stand out in the battle to attract new talent or retain — and get the most out of — their existing workforce should understand what is causing the inequities blocking so many of these workers. After all, it is in the best interest of both the employer and the employee to find ways to motivate and provide opportunities for all workers.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, rooting out the challenges blocking employees of color from participating in the Great Resignation can be good for the employer. Employees that feel trapped in a job they’d like to quit but can’t financially are likely to be less productive and less invested in that organization’s success.

Workers who feel stuck in a position because they don’t believe they have access to training and professional development are less likely to have the skills or the confidence to attempt to move up in their current position, much less apply for a new one.

Frustrated and discouraged employees are never good for a company’s bottom line.

There are initiatives companies can implement that will help retain current employees who are unsatisfied and could attract future workers. It starts with understanding the underlying dynamic and finding ways to provide equitable access to opportunity within your organization.

Employers should accelerate and expand efforts to provide skilling opportunities that will optimize internal mobility for all employees. The need to continually acquire new skills has taken on an urgency across the workforce with employers unable to fill thousands of open positions due to a growing skills gap, particularly when it comes to digital expertise.

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just change the fabric of the workplace, it accelerated the digital transformation at companies of all stripes. Yet more than half of the world’s population lack digital accessibility and the digital gap only widened during COVID-19, creating a greater barrier to the digital economy and its related job opportunities. Companies need to take into account these disadvantages. Those that fail to proactively stay in front of tech-driven changes could fall behind their competitors.

In tandem with the promotion of professional development, companies can make meaningful investments in diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives that will create opportunities for employees of all backgrounds to grow and thrive in the workforce and help retain workers rather than lose them to “The Great Resignation.”

Randstad recognizes the importance of those initiatives in creating a more diverse workforce and last year launched a best-in-class skilling program aimed at driving systemic change in diverse and untapped communities. The TRANSCEND program provides candidates from traditionally underrepresented talent pools with a pipeline to skills training and job opportunities in in-demand industries including account management, financial services, non-clinical healthcare and technology management. 

We should recognize the system barriers preventing thousands of workers from enjoying the benefits of “the Great Resignation” in the same manner as others. We can and must correct this with skilling and professional development initiatives — efforts that support employers and employees, alike.


Audra Jenkins is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, spearheading initiatives both within and outside of our organization. She brings more than 20 years of human resources, diversity and compliance experience, along with a passion for advocating on behalf of underserved populations, and was recognized as the Most Powerful Influential Woman by the National Diversity Council in 2018.