The Contribution of Support Programs on Ethnic Minority Employee Retention


Researchers have long found that there is a relationship between employee’s commitment to their organization and turnover intention. In particular, ethnic minority employee turnover has remained a serious problem for leaders across the high technology (high tech) industry. Studies have revealed the importance of diversity in the workplace, which indicates that culture of inclusion is good for the organization’s employees, partners, suppliers, shareholders, customers (Alleman & Clarke, 2000; Barrick & Zimmerman, 2005; Klein, 1980; Zatzick, Elvira & Cohen, 2003). Despite the obvious benefits, the global and U.S. workforces have yet to achieve much progress in ethnic minority representation (Janssens & Zanoni, 2005).

Background of the Problem

Many high tech organizations, according to Longenecker and Scazzero (2003), have seen employee turnover produce devastating results, damaging both organizational performance as well as the organizational operating capabilities. An area of interest while studying employee turnover and job satisfaction is that turnover of trained staff is expensive and creates additional costs and extra work (Singer & Goodrich, 2006). Longenecker and Scazzero (2003) argued that research on employee turnover has largely focused on individual attitudes that lead to organizational commitment and job satisfaction, which subsequently, leads to intention to remain on the job. Longenecker and Scazzero suggested that in light of the many issues pertaining to the nature of tech work and the composition of the tech industry workforce overall, it may be time to broaden the discussion to include ethnic minority employee turnover.

The problem of ethnic minority employee turnover in the high tech industry and beyond is a major concern. Friedman and Holton (2002) found that companies are worried about retention of minority employees in that such retention assists in maintaining or increasing the diversity of the workplace. Retention is also a major concern to prospective minority employees themselves since minority employees naturally, tend to interact better and more comfortably with other minorities. Friedman and Holton (2002) opined that such interactions lead to deeper, personal relationships at work as well as a broader network of causal connections, sharing of information on how to adapt, providing mentoring and support while providing enhanced career development through community building. The impact of all these approaches and social interactions is a reduction in ethnic minority employee turnover.

Study Design

The study provides evidence to the following questions.

  1. What is the relationship between workplace support programs, such as mentoring and or consistent coaching, and the intent to turnover of minority employees in the high tech environment in Silicon Valley, California?
  2. To what extent is the availability of career path statistically significant to the retention and turnover of ethnic minority employees?
  3. What impact, if any, does the degree of ethnic minority representation have on ethnic minority employee turnover in the high tech organizations?

Scope of the Study

The scope of the present study included ethnic minority employees in the high tech environment in Silicon Valley, California.  Furthermore, the study was
limited to retention of employees over a short period rather than longitudinal interventions.


Data was collected by means of a modified version of a questionnaire containing 5-point Likert-type items previously used in other studies. The majority of the survey items were Likert-type items based on a scale from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” Other questions asked factual data include employee business unit, employee length of service, employee gender, age, issue of inclusion and diversity (the amount of time employees stay in an organization), income, ethnicity, length of employment in the high tech field, and whether employee is a manager or an engineer.

Data Analysis

Descriptive Statistics

Data were collected by means of a survey questionnaire containing 24 5-point Likert-type items. The descriptive statistics were run on the responses from the survey questions for the 130 participants from 100 Black Men Inc., Silicon Valley, California.

Of the 130 participants, who fully completed and returned the survey 65% were males while 35% were females. Similarly, the professions of the survey participants covered a wide spectrum, from engineering to sales.

Area of Employment

The job functions of the130 participants follows:

  • Engineering 28%
  • Management 20%
  • Support/services 18%
  • Sales 12%
  • Accounting 9%
  • Consulting 7%
  • Other 6% (administrative, assembly, facility, HR, training, legal, finance, logistics, public relations, marketing, technical writers, and various contract works)

Length of Service

While five Hispanics stated that they have been employed for one to two years, 25 African Americans indicated having been employed for the same length of time in Silicon Valley. Furthermore, 15 Hispanics and 23 African Americans had three to four years tenure in the area. Another 15 Hispanics stated that they have been working in the Valley for at least five years while a significant population of African Americans had been working in the area for five or more years.

Annual Income by Gender

The majority of males as well as females make above $50,000. The males have a  higher percentage making $100,000 and above than females. The $50,000 – $79,999 bracket is the most highly represented by females whereas males are nearly evenly split between that bracket and the next higher two.

Age Level of the Participants

Overall, 22% of all the participants reported being over 50 years old. The age breakdown of other participants include 18-24 (5% of participants), 25-32 (16% of participants), 33-40 (28% of participants), and 41-50 (28% of participants). Observation revealed that the workforce is expected to be highly skilled labor and does encompass individuals in an age range to have finished their degrees.

Perspectives on the Impact of Turnover on Leadership (by Gender)

While 69% either agreed or strongly agreed that ethnic minority employee turnover is problem for organizational leaders, slightly more than half of the female population or 51% believed that such turnover is indeed, an issue for organizational leaders. Interestingly, more females expressed no opinion than males. In other words, the female participants had notably different perceptions compared to the male participants. The discrepancies described here could be seen in the percentages where 34% of males strongly agree that turnover of ethnic minorities is an issue to high tech leaders while 40% of females had no opinion.

Perspectives on the Impact of Turnover on Leadership (by Ethnicity)

On the impact ethnic minority turnover on overall organizational leadership and organizational performance, 60% of all Hispanics either agreed or strongly agreed that ethnic minority employee turnover is a problem for organizational leaders. Similarly, 64% of all African American males and females either agreed or strongly agreed that ethnic minority employee turnover is a cause for concern. About 12% of all participants either disagreed or strongly disagreed, that ethnic minority employee turnover is a problem to organizational leaders while approximately 25% of all participants had no opinion.  Overall, 73% o f the participants identified themselves as African Americans while approximately 27% indicated being Hispanics.

African Americans vs. Hispanics and their beliefs on the impact of ethnic minority turnover to leadership

Ethnicity vs. Loyalty

Analysis of the categorical total responses indicated that African Americans appear to be more consistent than the Hispanics when it comes to expressing organizational loyalty. Further analysis of the categorical responses indicate that a higher percentage of African Americans than Hispanics found loyalty to be a factor in making a determination about plans to leave an organization.


There were significant evidences to suggest that there is a significant relationship between turnover of ethnic minority employees with the availability of at least one of the support programs, such as mentoring or coaching in high tech organizations. In addition, the turnover of ethnic minority employees was associated with the availability of paths to advancement, promotion, and satisfaction in high tech organizations within two years of employment. Finally, the analysis showed a relationship between ethnic minority employee representation and minority employee turnover in the high
tech organizations.

The results demonstrated that ethnic minority employee satisfaction should likely improve in high tech organizations with the provision of organizational support programs.

Turnover Impact (DV)

Employee turnover produces devastating effect on organizations (Longenecker & Scazzero, 2003). Niederman and Sumner (2004) observed that employee turnover is a critical problem in traditional organizations. Longenecker and Scazzero (2003) pointed out that the most obvious and significant problem caused by turnover is its negative impact on achieving performance goals.

The study on ethnic employee turnover in the high tech Silicon Valley has shown that turnover negatively affects organizations in many different ways. As discussed in the research by Niederman and Sumner (2004), employee turnover is expensive and disruptive to an organization and its employees, and, any decrement in the percentage of turnover in an organization can result to increment in the organization’s profitability and

Implications of the Research Findings

The research on the effect of support programs on ethnic minority employees was a true revelation for the following reasons. First, information from data established that lack of support programs and job satisfaction are strong factors that precipitate turnover intentions of minority employees. Second, the study provided evidence that the availability of career paths has positive impact on the retention of ethnic minority employees. Third, the findings showed that there is significant evidence to believe that ethnic minority representation in high tech organizations have considerable positive impact on the turnover of other ethnic minority employees. The findings have implications to the high tech leaders as well as leaders beyond that industry.


Alleman, E., & Clarke, D. L. (2000). Accountability: Measuring mentoring and its bottom line impact. Review of Business, 21(2), 62-67.

Barrick, M. R., & Zimmerman, R. D. (2005). Reducing voluntary, avoidable turnover through selection. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 159-166.

Friedman, R. A., & Holton, B. (2002). The effects of network groups on minority employee turnover intentions. Human Resource Management, 41(4), 405-421.

Janssens, M., & Zanoni, P. (2005). Many diversities for many services: Theorizing diversity (management) in service companies. Human Relations, 58(3), 311-341.

Klein, G. D. (1980). Beyond EOE and affirmative action: Working on the integration of the work place. California Management Review, XXII (4), 74-81.

Longenecker, C. O., & Scazzero, J. A. (2003). The turnover and retention of IT managers in rapidly changing organizations. Information Systems Management, 48(1), 59-65.

Niederman, F., & Sumner, M. (2004). Effects of tasks, salaries, and shocks on job satisfaction among MIS professionals. Information Resources Management, 17(4), 49-72.

Singer, P., & Goodrich, J. (2006). Retaining and motivating high-performing employees. Public Libraries, 45(1), 58-63.

Zatzick, C. D., Elvira, M. M., & Cohen, L. E. (2003). Why is more better? The effects of racial composition on voluntary turnover. Organization Science, 14(5), 483-496.

About the authors: Dr. Emmanuel Ezeokeke & Dr. Steve Chambers

One comment

  1. Great information. I would love to see more recent citations and references though. All the citations are over 10 years old. I imagine there are much more recent studies to reference.

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