Why diversity job boards have a role to play

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The other day I received a call from a potential advertiser who asked me a very pointed question: 'What is the purpose of a diversity job board?' At first, I was a little taken aback because the answer seemed so obvious to me. But more importantly, I quickly realised, is that it was not so apparent to him.

So I started to think about the question in more depth.

By some estimates, there are approximately 50,000 job boards on the internet on which employers can post their job openings, yet many employers are only familiar with the big sites that do the most advertising. Many employers are not aware of lower-cost alternatives such as niche boards. And what advertisers presume will offer the best value may, in fact, not be the case.

When it comes to job boards, volume isn't everything. Often a niche online board is much more cost-effective and targeted than a larger, generalist board. Niche boards focus on any number of criteria including specific market segments, professions, geographic area or other employment issues, such as diversity. While niche boards often have fewer jobs available than the larger generalist job boards, they are easier to navigate and ensure that both the employer and the candidate are on the same page.

MyDiversity.com attracts a substantially higher concentration of qualified diversity job seekers than generalist job boards because it allows potential candidates to address their primary concern – competing for jobs where they believe they have a fair chance of being hired and accepted regardless of the their sexual preference, age, religion, race, disability and gender.

I once heard the story of a qualified woman seeking a job in her area of expertise. During the interview process she obligingly explained that due to religious reasons, she had to leave early on Fridays. The interviewer would nod and complete the interview. But not once did the woman hear back for anyone who had interviewed her.

It didn’t take her long to catch on that there was no benefit in being honest and when she went to her next new interview, she never mentioned the matter. It was only after she was hired for that job that she told her new employer that she had to leave early on Fridays to which the understandably upset employer asked: ‘Why didn’t you tell me this during the interview process?’

"People don’t want to feel they have to hide who they are in order to get a job," said one diversity job board candidate. "Their qualifications and personality should speak for themselves."

In 2000 the EU introduced new directives explicitly protecting people from what have now become the key diversity groups – sexual preference, religion and age, as well as updating the protection against disability, race and gender discrimination. It has not been an easy transition during the past 10 years. Between the EU passing directives, and the UK Government implementing them, there have been many incidents where the Government has failed to provide the required minimum level of protection.

As a result, in 2008, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman first announced the plans for what would become The Equality Bill. The bill received Royal Assent this past April and is due to come into force in October 2010.

Everyone wants to work in an environment in which they feel like a valued contributor. As of 2000, human rights law has been incorporated into general UK employment law and applies to all employers. However, for those experiencing difficulty securing employment because they belong to a diverse population subgroups, the challenges remain.

As Lesley Price, service delivery director at Equal Approach says, "Our whole ethos as a recruitment provider is to promote diversity and equality in the workplace, so we were looking for a job site which would support that, giving us access to the widest range of candidates and promoting our vacancies with them helps us to secure our reputation as a leader in diversity recruitment."

Finding the best person for your vacancy means placing your advert with the right job site. Candidates aren’t particularly interested in the size of the board they are using. All they care about is whether it has relevant jobs for them.

Kendall Wigoda is director of Marketing at MyDiversity.com

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