H. Jack Walker and colleagues had expected that racial diversity cues such as images and testimonials would appeal to black applicants, by indicating that the organisation was sympathetic to their identity. Rather than just surveying attitudes, the team went beyond previous studies by looking at what applicants did during and remembered following site browsing.
In a first study, 141 students evaluated a website of a fictional website, which under one condition included a diversity cue - two of four company representatives on the "Meet Our People" page were black - whereas under the other condition all four reps were white. A second study increased real-world validity by asking 73 students to make judgements about two genuine company sites with high or low diversity cues.
In both studies, the black students (around a third of each sample) were able to recall more details about the organisation when tested two to three weeks after when they had been browsing a website containing strong diversity cues. The first study measured browsing time too, and found the black students spent more time on those websites. But all this was also true of the white students: the effects were slightly less pronounced - there was an interaction between presence of cue and applicant race - but they were there nonetheless.
Straight off, I should emphasise that use of diversity cues needs to be sincere: misselling an organisation as diversity friendly is a clear recipe for disaster for applicant and employer alike. With that in mind, there would be ample reason to put sincere diversity cues in recruitment websites even if the effect had been limited to black applicants. Even neglecting the wider social effects, increasing diversity in an organisation widens its talent pool, can improve its performance and makes it more attractive to a broader customer base. But the current study suggests that for black and white applicants, sites containing such cues "are more likely to maintain applicant interest so that website viewers evaluate and retain more website information". In a world of short attention spans, that's got to be worth a lot.