Corporate Eye

Diversity and the Corporate Website: Hot Topic or Obsolete Concept?


Is “diversity” an obsolete concept in the post-racial, post-gender, post-modern world of the 21st century? It’s still a hot topic at the U.S. Supreme Court, where attorneys recently presented arguments in the latest landmark discrimination case, which revolves around the issue of diversity in the workplace. And most companies continue to include something (often quite a lot) about diversity on their corporate and career websites. But it’s not simple to decide just how—and how much—to present this complex topic.

If you want to immerse yourself in the topic, visit DiversityInc, a website and print magazine that are literally all about diversity. I did not find a lot of concrete advice or analysis there about recruiting and diversity, but in the article How Your Diversity Reputation Attracts High-Potential Recruits, they ask the following question: “How do progressive diversity companies stress their branding as national diversity leaders?” And the answer is: “They start with their web sites, which should prominently feature the Top 50 logo as evidence of their credibility.”

For the several companies that didn’t make it into DiversityInc’s Top 50 (a list that includes Johnson & Johnson, Xerox, Verizon, Comerica, Walt Disney, and other giant corporations ), the article continues with this advice:

  • “The homepage should have a direct link to diversity.”
  • “There should be a prominent quote from the CEO on the benefits of diversity.”
  • “The site itself should feature frequent images of Black, Latino, Asian and American Indian employees and customers, as well as employees and customers with disabilities.”
  • “Content aimed at LGBT people must be included as well.”

This approach makes diversity a top-level point, turning a spotlight directly on the topic. But that’s not necessarily the only “right” approach, or the best approach for a specific company.  And these suggestions actually raise some challenging questions, in terms of both practicality and ethics.

However! I’m now on the umpteenth draft of this post, and it keeps getting so complicated that I have to stop and double back. (No wonder the topic of diversity keeps turning up at the Supreme Court.) So my strategy for now is to divide the questions up into two categories, and explore each category in its own post.

Category 1: What are the various options for incorporating diversity as a specific topic on the corporate website in general and the Careers site in particular? I think there are four basic approaches, and I’ll try to give examples of each.

Category 2: What are the most important considerations about presentation of diversity on the website? Here I’d like to look at both subtle factors (such as imagery and language) and obvious content, such as policy statements and executive messages.

Well, that seems like a lot, so I’d better start sorting it all out . . .

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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, 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.