Diversity in recruitment - why should marketing play a role?

08 Oct 16:00 by Corinne Lavictoire


Open a newspaper, sit in a board meeting, turn on your TV, the benefits of a diverse workforce is being discussed everywhere.

The trickle-down effect is that brands everywhere are waking up to the fact that HR has been aware of for years – that improving diversity and inclusivity within a workforce has huge benefits both financially and ethically.​

According to a recent white paper, 85% of employers now believe that increasing diversity in their workforce is a priority, with 73% of employers believing that diversity is important in encouraging creative and innovative thinking within a company. In order to drive this behaviour and attract the right talent, marketing is often required to drive a change in mind set across a business. By understanding people, their needs and what makes them tick and then communicating how a business meets these needs, this can empower HR teams and energise recruitment campaigns

Encouraging diversity in marketing   

Having a diverse department that consists of all different ethnic backgrounds, religions, ages and genders can generate a range of ideas and inspiring, authentic thinking, thus driving innovation in a business. During the hiring process, employers need to take the time to think about the value of diversity and embrace different backgrounds and experiences. Recent studies show that the companies who are embracing diversity and inclusivity in their marketing are building better relationships with their customers and at the same time, boosting the reputation of their brand. 

A prime example of diversity shining a light through advertising campaigns is the representation of the LGBT community. Many brands are celebrating and understanding that their customer base is varied and brands such as Lloyds Bank, who showcased the #HeSaidYes 2016 campaign as part of their ‘For your Next Step’ messaging, is a good example of the importance and celebration of diversity and being by the customer’s side. The ad campaign, which showed a same sex couple proposal, had a positive reception on social media according to Ros King, director of marketing communications at Lloyds Bank. He also added that during the launch, top hashtags were used afterwards such as #lgbt #equality and #hesaidyes.

It is noticeable that marketing is stepping in the right direction when addressing diversity within the customer base. Interestingly, research shows that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially, with companies in the top quartile for gender diversity now 15% more likely to outperform their peers, and those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to outperform.

However, recent BBC research showed that the wording used in job adverts discouraged women from applying for job roles, and that a clear bias was present even before women put their foot in the door. Words such as ‘manage’ or ‘build’ were seen preferable for male applicants, whilst women preferred to see words such as ‘develop’ and ‘create’ in job advertisements. Marketing is required to step up in these instances and make sure advertisements are consistent, transparent and equal in terms of language and images used, so that everybody gets a fair and invested opportunity of applying for a role. 

Global brands such as Google are striving to do more to achieve diversity and inclusion outcomes within their workforce. In Google’s recent diversity annual report, it stated that “diversity is a business imperative because Google builds for everyone – and diverse teams produce better products and services”. The report showed that 30.9% of Google’s workforce are made up of women and 69.1% were made up of male employees. Google’s workforce composition has 4.2% of two or more races in their workforce comparing to 2014, which had 3.6%, an increase of 0.6%. This suggests that with an effective overarching strategy now in place, Google are focusing their attention on attracting, developing, progressing and retaining more underrepresented talent at all levels of the workforce, reaching or exceeding the available talent pool. Marketing ensures business growth for this to be integrated in the strategy and accelerates the opportunity of attracting more talent from different minority backgrounds to the workplace.

Eliminating interviewer bias

Managing unconscious bias during the recruitment process is challenging and can restrict the formation of a diverse workforce. To eliminate bias, diverse panels at interview stage and standardised questions need to be put in place so that all candidates have an equal opportunity that is not based on background or gender and doesn’t influence discrimination. Marketing plays a key role here, as making sure an effective and ethical marketing strategy is outlined in the recruitment process is essential in delivering the right message to the candidate and attracting them to the business, without risk of stereotyping or discriminating.

Changing expectations of employees

Over the years, people’s expectations about what they want to get from a role has changed. Employees now want more challenging and interesting work as many feel motivated to build their career progression through a succession of jobs in a variety of businesses. Also, employees seek to have a role where they can balance work and social life accordingly, for example, companies introducing flexible working schemes. As well as looking for a work life balance, employees expect to be fulfilled from their role, with company values and culture at the heart of retaining today’s employee. The role of marketing is needed in order to communicate these factors to potential candidates, so not only are they applying for a role, but they are investing their interest into something they’ll enjoy doing and getting the right benefits in return. Businesses must sell themselves to candidates so that the right message is communicated correctly, and engagement from the candidate is secured.

Championing marketing in the recruitment process

Discussing the topic of diversity, associate director of people and organisational development at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Sarah Lee-Boone, said: “In any market, there is fierce competition – so knowing you have a clear and differentiated brand is significant in every interaction you have with a candidate, through all stages of the recruitment process. 

It is imperative for recruiters to be supported by marketing to cut through the noise and business of competing for an available space on the jobs board. Before the days of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, many recruiters would opt to publicise their jobs via printed adverts in windows or newspapers, however since social media has surfaced, it has had a strong effect on a business’ brand and performance.  

The digital world has enabled even smaller brands to have a digital presence that can stretch to wider audiences looking for a role. Additionally, creating engaging content about particular issues or current affairs, like our CIM Newsroom, can enhance a business’ expertise within their field and engage potential candidates applying for roles, providing an insight into what the business thinks and feels. Content creation can therefore further drive greater interaction, even before meeting the candidate.”

Being the best and standing out in a crowded market is the aim that all marketers and recruiters strive to accomplish. Trying out new ideas and concepts, experimenting with new ways to attract candidates for jobs is now critical. Fundamentally, having a good marketing strategy in place within the recruitment process will have a positive impact on a company’s sales, retention of the workforce and internal hiring. At the Chartered Institute of Marketing, we ensure that all our roles reflect the demands of the marketing industry. Our bespoke CIM jobs site offers the latest roles for those searching for a new marketing challenge or starting out in their career. We ensure that we use up-to-date recruitment strategies to provide our candidates a fresh perspective when searching through job listings and careers advice on our CIM jobs site.

Author: Corinne Lavictoire and James Delves

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