Diversity Retention Project


Since 2005, Partners in Diversity has welcomed and connected more than 3,600 professionals of color through its signature multi-cultural networking event, Say Hey!® Many of these professionals moved to Oregon or southwest Washington for jobs.

A 2014-2017 study by Partners in Diversity looked at ways in which businesses that need skilled labor can successfully build a diverse workforce through equitable recruitment strategies. Years later, we’re hearing a different concern from employers and professionals of color.

A shared challenge now faced by Partners in Diversity member employers is the ability to retain professionals and leaders of color for the long term. Anecdotal evidence points to several factors for the high turnover of diverse talent:

  • Lack of diversity in the local community and workplace.
  • Inability for newcomers to tap into a diverse network of fellow professionals and community members.
  • Lack of leadership opportunities supported by mentorship and sponsors.
  • Difficulty in engaging with the community.
  • Isolation from friends and family.

However, these accounts were gathered in an informal manner that relied heavily on personal testimonial. So in 2019, Partners in Diversity launched a scientific study to verify these anecdotes. It’s important to note that by the time this report was created in July 2020, the national climate and culture have changed. The coronavirus pandemic that exacerbated racial inequities, the police-involved killings of unarmed Black Americans, and the subsequent calls for police reform, and polarization over systemic racism have given rise to a collective awakening and a new level of racial awareness and interest.


The Workforce Diversity Retention Project’s goal is to conduct research to find out why professionals of color are leaving Oregon and southwest Washington, improve local retention strategies, create more equitable outcomes for employees of color, and support a more diverse, connected and inclusive community.


Thank you for the generous support of our sponsors.