The Pros and Cons of Recruiting for Diversity

Ali Neill / April 9, 2019
Category : Recruitment, Recruitment advice
Caption: The Pros and Cons of Recruiting for Diversity

If you were to believe the media, workplace diversity can only improve your productivity and your company in general. Only pros and no cons, right? Therefore, it makes sense to focus your future recruitment campaigns on diversity. There has definitely been a move in that direction. More and more companies are trying to boost their diversity by hiring minorities or women, for example. Services like Textio promise to attract specific types of candidates by changing the job advert wording and Jobiak focuses on SEO in Google so that the adverts appear more frequently in searches. In the world of job boards, new job sites with clear initiatives, like Vercida in the UK and Sticks and Stones in Germany (for LGBT hiring), have started to appear on the market to answer a growing demand for diversity.

We need to slow down though and reflex. What if diversity hiring isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? We decided to consider the pros as well as the cons of diversity hiring to learn more about this trend.

The Cons

Anyone who has tried to hire for diversity will tell you that it’s not easy. Since the idea is to recruit people who might have faced discrimination in the past, the objective is to use positive discrimination this time to offer those same people jobs. The concept alone is slightly controversial. One solution to the discrimination issue has been to hide sensitive information and to promote blind recruiting. However, that does not guarantee you’ll be hiring candidates from a more diverse background so now we have more proactive approaches.

That’s a little too much information

In order to allow recruiters to hire candidates who correspond to their initiatives, Vercida asks jobseekers to answer personal questions. With over 25 initiatives on their job board, ranging from age, disability and female initiatives to mentoring, wellbeing and leadership programs, you can imagine that some questions are rather intrusive for candidates. In fact, the jobseeker account asks for the following information: any disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, race, talent development, any children and any corporate social responsibility.

To avoid the awkward questions, Sticks and Stones has opted for a listing of jobs and no CV database, which does make more sense for diversity hiring. Unfortunately, recruiters cannot be sure their job offers will attract the type of candidates they want. It’s the old post and pray method.

It’s not because you’re hired that you’re accepted

Diversity recruiting isn’t going to make a difference if the new employee enters a hostile workplace environment. If it isn’t welcoming, safe, and supportive, any attempt at diversity is going to fall flat. Having diversity in the workplace doesn’t actually start with recruiting; it starts in the office with the current employees.

In an article from Forbes, the push towards cultural fit is described as potentially damaging when creating more diverse workplaces. Hiring managers who focus on cultural fit tend to favour candidates with similar backgrounds, experiences and demographics. In other words, they favour candidates like themselves. The cultural fit shouldn’t be limited to one type of person. It’s a good thing to ensure new hires fit the company culture; the issue is ensuring that the company culture isn’t anti-diversity. Training and awareness need to start in the office before introducing new employees who might feel different and left out.

You aren’t diverse enough

Why isn’t there a job board for straight white men? Just imagine how badly society would react to that kind of racism and sexism. Yet, websites promoting only blacks or only women exist. Even if the initiative to target more underprivileged groups makes sense, there are underprivileged individuals who are white, male and middle-aged. Candidates could think, “this isn’t fair! I’m not bigoted but what somebody else has gone through isn’t my fault!”. By rewarding candidates for skin colour, gender or age, you run the risk of breeding resentment.

Many people who aren’t targeted by diversity recruiting efforts feel threatened or cheated. Recruiters need to examine the fragility that drives these thought processes so that their diversity hiring isn’t received negatively by other employees or candidates.

How much is this going to cost us?

A lot of resources, human and other, go into the recruiting process. Recruiters don’t simply place ads, they create initiatives. This could be creating job listings and landing pages, sourcing for candidates, etc. In order to diversify these efforts, all of these things may need to be revisited. This includes purchasing costly tools to rewrite job adverts, seeking advice from recruitment experts outside the company, recruiting on more local and international job boards, etc. All of this has a cost.

If web pages need to be rewritten or sourcing requires adapting current material for a new candidate pool, they might have to invest in additional services like Pick Writers for expert advice.

Diversity is a big word

A company that lacks racial diversity may have different systemic issues than one that fails to successfully recruit members of the LGBTQ community. Diversity hiring means something different to each company. You aren’t going to use the same wording or media to recruit women as you might use to recruit disabled candidates. Even within the disabled candidate pool, someone with a stammer could be a great hire for one profession and not for another.

Each target group faces different roadblocks when it comes to recruiting, hiring and retention. A company that creates a monolithic diversity recruiting initiative without considering the specific challenges for their diversity goals, is doomed to fail.

The Pros

It’s a diverse world, we need a diverse workplace

While it’s true that other things have to fall into place for companies to recruit, hire and retain diverse workplaces, these efforts have to start somewhere. Thanks to things like globalisation, the internet and open borders in Europe, diversity is growing. You can’t go outside without seeing a mix of cultures and ethnic groups in most first world countries, so why would your workplace be any different? Diversity recruiting promotes branching out from the usual, familiar talent pools. By focusing on diversity at the recruiting stage, companies can step out of their comfort zones and begin a very important process.

Diversity is the first step towards equality

If businesses truly want to create diverse workplaces, it is an ongoing challenge, which involves active participation from management and current employees. It’s not enough to simply commit to giving candidates from a variety of backgrounds fair consideration if they happen to come across a hiring manager’s radar. Instead, an effort must be made to reach out into minority populations. If the employees in the office are from different backgrounds, it’s important to promote exchange and open-mindedness. Diversity aims to create more equality, be it gender equality or race equality. It should come as no surprise to anyone that diversity hiring is a popular topic at the same time as pay transparency and pay gaps. When hiring for diversity, it’s important to remember that the new employee should receive the same pay and benefits as someone from a less diverse background.

Job boards for associations could be the key

Even if the job boards are struggling to respond to the diversity hiring trend, they are trying new things. Every company and job board, which attempt to solve the problem, shed new light on the issues and create awareness. By trying to improve the diversity in the workplace, companies will eventually have very diverse environments. Furthermore, as they learn from their efforts, they will become sources of information and support to other businesses.

Another interesting way to reach more potential candidates could be to add job boards to association websites. The members who already belong to the association could discover new opportunities, without feeling targeted to fill a company quota. More job boards focused on specific candidates or job boards which are part of associations provide recruiters and jobseekers with new places to interact.

Productivity is up!

Credit Suisse conducted an analysis of 2 400 companies worldwide. One of the conclusions it came to was that businesses which had at least one female board member had a higher rate of net income growth as well as a higher return on equity than those that did not. This is further supported by a McKinsey report on 366 publicly traded companies that revealed a link between management diversity, and better financial returns.

There are likely several reasons for this. Millennials are currently the most powerful consumer group in terms of dollars. They have proven as a whole that they want to do business with companies that prioritize diversity. In addition to this, having diverse management teams brings many different perspectives to the decision-making process. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

Final Thoughts

Diversity hiring comes with its advantages and its drawbacks, like so many other recruitment strategies. In 2019, it is clear that the trend is set to grow so we need to consider how to promote diversity efficiently, in recruitment and in the workplace. By addressing the cons and highlighting the pros, workplaces everywhere could change the face of employment for the better.


This is a collaborative piece between Ali Neill and Kristine Savage. Kristin is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. Also, she has been a reviewer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to accurately assess newcomer translation services. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Author: Ali Neill

As the job board tester and blog editor for the Jobboard Finder, Ali works on job boards from all around the world and keeps a close eye on the recruitment trends thanks to a number of sources, including the website’s social media pages.

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