RES2019-19: Best Strategies for Hiring, Retaining and Utilizing Minorities and Women

To better assess the state of workforce diversity and opportunities to address diversity challenges, TDOT issued a research contract to the University of Memphis (with subcontracts to Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University) in December 2018 to examine these issues. The focus of this research was to assess TDOT’s goals, challenges, and practices with regard to attracting and retaining diverse talent and to develop a comprehensive framework for successful hiring and retention of minorities and women. A literature review was undertaken to fully understand best practices and challenges in the national landscape of diversity and inclusion. It was next important to fully understand TDOT’s current workforce status and environment. The research team analyzed TDOT’s workforce data to determine current demographics and how this compares to state and national statistics. An analysis of TDOT staffing patterns from 2011-2019, demographic profiles, state and national comparisons, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints (January 2014 – December 2018) and compliance data (applicant tracking documentation; data available for January – December 2019) were also conducted. To better gauge the workplace culture and staff perceptions, an agency-wide survey was developed and conducted in the fall of 2019, resulting in 545 completed surveys. A series of interviews of TDOT staff in varying levels of leadership across the organization were also conducted, engaging 48 staff. Additionally, a set of interviews was conducted with 23 state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the country in the spring of 2020 to better understand how other agencies are addressing diversity and inclusion initiatives. The research team also developed a database of potential organizations and agencies throughout the four regions and headquarters that could provide community partnerships, training, and/or recruitment efforts to help TDOT with its workforce diversity challenges. The results from all aspects of the study informed a set of recommendations for TDOT to consider for moving forward and developing a more inclusive workplace culture where diverse individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and respected. The recommendations encompassed redefining policies and practices to provide a more strategic approach to diversity and inclusion, strategies for attracting diverse candidates that include comprehensive, agency-wide outreach and pipeline efforts that engage community partners, and approaches to creating an inclusive workplace culture that are centered on communicating the value and importance of diversity and inclusion to TDOT’s mission.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $69710
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Tennessee Department of Transportation

    James K. Polk Building
    Fifth and Deaderick Street
    Nashville, TN  United States  37243-0349
  • Managing Organizations:

    Tennessee Department of Transportation

    James K. Polk Building
    Fifth and Deaderick Street
    Nashville, TN  United States  37243-0349
  • Project Managers:

    Guglielmi, Giuliana

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Memphis

    Memphis, TN  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ivey, Stephanie

  • Start Date: 20181201
  • Expected Completion Date: 20201130
  • Actual Completion Date: 20201130
  • USDOT Program: Transportation, Planning, Research, and Development

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01771460
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: RES2019-19
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: May 11 2021 12:18PM