There are many well-documented reasons for pushing for diversity in your organisations, but beware being over-zealous in your diversity drives warns Simon Kent.
Children's TV programme Blue Peter has been referred to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) following a recruitment campaign which appeared to target candidates of Celtic origin by advertising a presenter's job in regional newspapers mainly in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
According to a spokesperson at the CRE, the case was raised by a member of the public and having considered the facts the CRE has decided the campaign has not broken the law.
"There's nothing in the legislation to prevent a company from publicising the vacancy in this way," said the CRE's spokesperson. "An organisation can take action to encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, but they cannot make the actual appointment on the basis of background unless they can show job specifically requires someone with that background."
The Blue Peter case highlights the thin line between positive action - steps taken to widen the recruitment pools, and positive discrimination - and selection decisions taken for reasons other than the candidate's demonstrated ability to do the job.
It's a line that becomes easy to cross when organisations set themselves the challenge of becoming a more diverse workplace.
"Employers need to be careful about the approach they take to widen the talent pool and get more candidates from under-represented groups to apply for vacancies," said Ravinder Mahal, a senior solicitor with commercial law firm Wedlake Bell.
"Although employers can legitimately target their recruitment advertising to specific publications which are aimed at particular racial or ethnic groups, they should also advertise in more general publications with a wider target audience so as not to exclude the wider population."
Mahal highlighted other pitfalls where employers may find their selection practices, while designed to create diversity, proving to be discriminatory.
"Specifying that applicants must have UK-based qualifications and not recognising qualifications from overseas could exclude or discourage particular ethnic groups," he said. "Setting very rigid working days and hours could discourage working mothers