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Does Hiring for Culture Fit Stifle Diversity?

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Organisational culture has become a buzzword in today’s recruitment landscape. With the ever-growing competition for top talent, companies are striving to differentiate themselves to attract and retain top talent. But how does an organisation define its culture and ensure that new hires are a good fit?

The Importance of Organisational Culture

According to a study by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), hiring the wrong person can cost an organisation up to 50-60% of that person’s annual salary. Therefore, it’s crucial for companies to get it right the first time. One way to do that is by focusing on organisational culture.

Culture is defined as the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that make up an organisation. It can be revealed through surveys, team meetings, and compensation strategies. For startups, aspects of culture that are commonly promoted are productivity, engagement, and collaboration. It’s important for companies to share information about their culture in job postings and throughout the recruitment process to attract candidates who are a cultural match. When there is a match between the business and the employee, staff are more engaged in their work, which leads to better performance, happier employees, and longer employment tenures.

The Challenge of Diversity

While focusing on culture fit is important, it can also lead to an unconscious bias. People are naturally inclined to hire people who they can picture themselves relaxing with on the beach while enjoying a cold beer on a hot day. However, fitting in with the culture and norms of an organisation is quite a different process than a night out. In fact, focusing on the former in hiring decisions often leads to organisational challenges such as groupthink because employees come from similar backgrounds, cultures, or socio-economic statuses.

However, current research indicates that diverse teams perform better on a variety of metrics. Specifically, people from diverse backgrounds bring differences in thinking which helps them frame and solve problems differently. This breeds innovative thinking which increases sales and overall drives more revenue to the business.

Moving Towards “Culture Add”

A third option has become apparent in this conversation which has been coined as hiring for “culture add.” According to SHRM, “culture add” is defined as “unique experiences, values, skills, and personality one brings to the workplace to make it more diverse.” This definition includes two components: the ability to thrive in the current organisational culture as well as the ability to contribute to its growth.

The idea behind “culture add” is to focus on what the individual can bring to the table, rather than solely focusing on whether they fit in with the current culture. This approach allows companies to foster a more diverse and inclusive environment, while also ensuring that the new hire is able to adjust to the current culture.

Culture Add in Action

Let’s take Jolene’s example from the beginning of this blog. Jolene is a seasoned marketing professional with 30 years of experience in middle management positions at major banks. While she may not fit in with the current startup culture, she may be able to bring a unique perspective and skill set to the organisation.

The hiring team can evaluate Jolene’s suitability for the Head of Marketing Role, not only based on whether she’ll be able to adjust to start-up life but also on whether she can bring her unique skills, ideas, and experiences to build a more diverse and forward-thinking organisation. The focus shifts from fitting in with the current culture to adding to it, which can result in a more inclusive and innovative environment.

In Conclusion

Organisational culture is an essential aspect of hiring for any business. While culture fit has become a trendy topic, it’s important to focus on what an individual can bring to the organisation rather than solely on whether they fit in with the current culture.

[1] ​Society for Human Resource Management
[2] Harvard Business Review
[3] Hudson Research

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