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Employee Retention: Being Mission Driven When Your Company Isn’t


Solving inequality, lack of opportunity, and an uneven playing field is often top of mind for a recruiter. After all, we often get a front-row seat when these issues play out.

Working for a mission-driven company is high on many people’s list of priorities, but it’s not always possible. Happily, we’ve found there are plenty of ways to eke out some social good wherever you’re working and help boost employee retention.

As an individual, these issues can be hard to tackle. But, getting your company involved gets outsized returns. Your company likely has the resources, office space (or access to online meeting tools), expertise, connections, a social platform, and budgets — all of which can be put to good use.

To create real change and impact people’s lives, look beyond typical Corporate Social Responsibility activities like fun runs. Focus instead on creating grass-roots partnerships you can sustain that have the potential to snowball.

Forge partnerships with diverse groups of people who are under-represented in the tech economy. In your area, for example, this might include veterans, PoC, LGTBQIA+ folks, women, ex-felons, people in underserved communities, and differently abled people.

Best of all, most of these ideas are inexpensive or free and build off practices you are already doing or thinking about doing. There are just 3 easy steps…

Step 1 – Identify groups to partner with in your local area/online. Some ideas…

  • Diverse groups at local colleges
  • Organizations that work to up-skill underserved populations
  • Veterans’ groups and advocates
  • Open source projects for social good/local hackathon nights
  • High schools in underserved districts
  • LGBTQIA+ networks
  • Programs for ex-felons
  • Local tutoring programs
  • Diverse meet-up groups
  • Diverse people and groups on Twitter

Step 2 – Identify things you could do. Some ideas…

  • Hold mock interview sessions. Interview candidates, pair with them on code and then give them constructive feedback. Candidates can practice their technique, learn real-world practices and gain confidence. It’s great skill-honing for your team too and you never know – you might meet someone exceptional you end up hiring.
  • Host a tour of your company, explain what your job is and what a day looks like. Kids from underserved backgrounds often aren’t familiar with what an office looks like, or dresscodes for office jobs, or that they could work in a company like yours. Bonus points for funding transport and providing lunch.
  • Start an internship program. You can start small and go from there. Please pay your interns though – otherwise it’s not cool.
  • Find someone in your company who is already doing something to make the world a better place. Figure out ways to support them and amplify their impact.
  • Start a mentoring program. Host it at your office.
  • If you’re doing in-house training, make space around the table/on the zoom call for a couple more people – and give away the spots.
  • Can you offer your software for free or at a discounted rate? Do you offer services? Can you start a pro bono program?
  • Buying a welcome gift for new employees? Consider spending your money with a non profit. We love the brownies from Greyston and so do our new hires 🙂
  • Donate office space after hours to meet up groups.
  • Giving a talk at a conference? Practice it beforehand in front of people who would benefit from the content, but might not have access to attend the conference.
  • Improve your consulting/training skills by teaching a course after hours, pro bono, on an employable skill.
  • Ordering t-shirts, or marketing giveaways for a conference? Check to see if there are striving local businesses in your city whom you could support.
  • When you and your colleagues go to a conference and get piles of free novelty flash drives, phone chargers, pens, etc. that you don’t need, gather it all up and give it away.
  • Having a company retreat day? Consider having it in a community center vs a hotel. Not only will it likely be cheaper, the money will stay in the community, and the different environment will spur creativity.
  • Use your corporate twitter, instagram, linkedin accounts to follow and amplify diverse voices and messages on social media.

Step 3 – Figure out which of the groups in step 1 would benefit from the things in step 2 and make it happen.

These ideas, together with providing effective feedback, will help to boost employee retention. However, there are often indirect benefits to you, your company, and even your industry. You might feel more satisfaction at work and you might hire people more easily into your company. If you benefit too that’s great! Who doesn’t love a win-win?