Corporate Eye

Diversity and the Corporate Website: Four Strategies

In the first post of this series, I suggested there are four basic approaches to dealing with diversity topics on the corporate and career websites. I’m going to call them:

1. Not a Problem. Say nothing, except by implication.

2. Just the Facts. Post a policy or statement.

3. Effectively Engaged. Expand diversity messaging.

4. Devoted to Diversity. Make diversity a major feature.

Ideally, the strategy selected should fit the company—and realistically, the primary difference between a company that can use strategy 1 and a company that needs strategy 4 is size. The relative diversity reputation of a company may also be a factor (for example, a company trying to make up for poor PR in this area may need to be more aggressive), and some industry sectors may require more diversity initiative than others.

While none of the four strategies is inherently good or bad, each has both virtues and pitfalls. Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons—based on common sense and my own observations:

Strategy Pro Con
Not a Problem Suggests the company is confident about diversity. May suggest company does not care about diversity.
Just the Facts Provides information without overemphasis. May appear to be merely lip service.
Effectively Engaged Demonstrates a significant commitment. Message may become fragmented.
Devoted to Diversity Makes it clear diversity is a primary value in the company. May appear to be patronizing, exploitative or exploitative.

To find examples, I visited three sites that I already like, on the assumption that they are probably doing the right thing! And one more that’s a diversity leader. So here we go:

Umpqua Bank, with about 1700 employees (9% minorities, 77% women), represents Not a Problem. No specific mention of diversity, just a brief, pleasant message about empowerment.

umpqua

The Meadows is a tiny employer, with a workforce of only 650 in 2008, growing to about 1,000 with opening of new permanent casino in 2009. Just 6% minority, about 60% women—but they have a really nice diversity statement that makes their Just the Facts approach seem sincere.

meadows

meadows-policy1

Jack in the Box has more than 40,000 employees, but if their diversity statistics are available, I can’t find same! The site includes two discussions of diversity—one at a policy level, the one at a culture level—to show they are Effectively Engaged. They also offer extended profiles of employees representing both ethnic and ability diversities. (Okay. I love the clever bit with the hats.)

jack-2

jack-3

Finally, Sodexo goes the extra mile to show they are Devoted to Diversity. This is the only site in the group I wasn’t familiar with, but Sodexo was the winner of the 2008 ERE Best Practices in Recruiting Award for Best Diversity Program. In fact, the ERE description says: “Whatever you are doing to promote diversity pales in comparison to the Sodexo approach,” so I certainly couldn’t resist a visit.

And although the Diversity portion of their Careers website is low-key in presentation, it is extensive and effective. A badge box revolves a series of diversity awards (they have more than two dozen), and sub-pages profile Sodexo “Champions of Diversity” and describe Employee Network Groups that cover a wide range of affinities. With over 100,000 employees, Sodexo is about half minority and more than half female.

sodexo

For a textbook example of diversity messaging, check out Sodexo’s 32-page Annual Diversity Report. Really—it’s worth the time.
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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
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