Maintaining a perfect balance between cultural fit and diversity is a challenging task. Companies often tend to misinterpret the meaning of cultural fit, ending up with a homogenous group of employees. As a result, there’s practically no diversity in the company, and the performance and creative output start suffering.
All of that raises the question - how to blend cultural fit and diversity to increase the company’s inclusion?
Can diversity and cultural fit go hand in hand? Let’s jump right in and see!
What is cultural fit?
Cultural fit refers to an employee’s personal values and behaviours and how well they match the company’s culture. Cultural fit is about the core beliefs and soft skills that make an employee fit and become an integral part of the company. It’s how well an employee fits the cultural values of other employees within the organisation.
It takes just one unsatisfied and disengaged employee to disrupt the entire office dynamic and atmosphere. That’s why it’s so important to hire with personality and cultural fit in mind. How well will the new employee fit with your current employees?
Although hiring for cultural fit has many benefits for an organisation, it should be considered as just one indicator, not the sole reason you choose one candidate over another. Let’s see why.
The risks of hiring for cultural fit
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions around the term cultural fit. Cultural fit goes deeper than choosing employees of the same race, ethnicity, age, or gender. It’s about the person’s ambitions and personal goals and how they correlate with the company’s short and long-term goals.
It’s no surprise that we’re all drawn to people similar to us. However, when recruiting employees, you’re recruiting someone who should fit the company culture, not someone who’d be good company for after-work drinks.
“What most people mean by culture fit is hiring people they’d like to have a beer with,” says Patty McCord, a human-resources consultant and former chief talent officer at Netflix. “You end up with this big, homogenous culture where everybody looks alike, everybody thinks alike, and everybody likes drinking beer at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with the bros,” she says.
As a result of such misconceptions and cultural fit prejudgments, many companies, especially in industries like IT, often tend to employ young people. Thus, they often end up as a homogenous group, lacking the expertise of senior employees.
The relationship between cultural fit and diversity
Using diversity and inclusion to increase a company’s productivity, you’ll build stronger teams and create a workplace where everyone feels well.
Despite this fact, many recruiters still hire for cultural fit or their “gut feeling” when choosing the perfect talent for the job, leading to a company with the same profile of employees and a decreased diversity in the workplace.
Hiring for cultural fit doesn’t have to go against diversity. In fact, high-performing companies can use cultural fit and diversity together as a potent way to recruit and retain diverse talents that will constantly bring new and innovative ideas.
5 ways to blend cultural fit and diversity
With the proper structure and organisation, hiring for cultural fit and diversity can work towards the same goal - finding the best fitting talents. Let’s see some practical strategies you can implement right away to create an inclusive company culture and increase diversity in your company.
1. Redefine the meaning of cultural fit
Cultural fit shouldn’t be the likes or dislikes of a potential employee, their religious, political, or other personal views or choices. And, least of all, gender, age, politics, religion, ethnicity, or race.
Instead, cultural fit means that the person shows the right dedication, skills, willingness, and openness to contribute to the company’s success while developing as a professional along the way.
So, instead of the term cultural fit, you could focus on following the principles of cultural diversity in the workplace. By hiring with diversity in mind, you get new and fresh points of view, novelty ideas, and innovative solutions.
2. Update your job descriptions to attract diverse talents
Improving workplace diversity has to start with writing more inclusive job descriptions. Address people in a genderless way, without assuming or being suggestive with words like “businessman.” Instead, opt for “business person.”
Here are some quick tips for writing and publishing more inclusive job descriptions:
- Use gender-less or gender-neutral language (use they/you instead of he/she)
- Avoid unintentional ageism (don’t use words like rockstar, ninja, guru, etc.)
- Whenever possible, place a salary range
- Clearly state that you’re an equal opportunity employer hiring employees with diverse backgrounds
- Don’t use jargons or acronyms that might put off candidates
- Pay attention to more than just the textual content - images, videos, etc., should all be adjusted and follow the principles of diversity and inclusiveness
3. Adjust every stage of your recruitment
We already spoke about the unintentional recruitment bias that happens when trying to hire for cultural fit in the traditional sense of the word. But, companies often recruit with ethnic or racial diversity in mind, and they forget about age and gender diversity. Always pay attention to ageism and sexism when recruiting.
To decrease this unintentional bias when selecting candidates, you could review all the resumes “blindly” by covering the person’s age, name, and gender. By doing this you’ll ensure that you’re recruiting without bias.
According to a 2020 McKinsey study, the most gender-diverse companies outperform the least diverse companies by an astonishing 48%. That’s undoubtedly more than enough to portray the importance of gender diversity in the workplace.
From candidate sourcing and screening to shortlisting and hiring, you must adjust each part of the recruitment process to increase your diversity hiring.
The safest way is to start slow by setting and accomplishing smaller goals you can track. For instance:
- Create more culturally sensitive and inclusive job descriptions by the end of Q1
- Balance out the staff gender ratio by Q2 (you could consider recruiting female employees if you’re working with a predominantly male staff - find ways to identify what could attract gender diversity to the roles)
- Audit and adjust all stages of the recruitment process by the end of Q2
4. Create an inclusive company culture
Creating an inclusive company culture will make everyone develop a sense of belonging and improve employee performance and productivity. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) practices are vital to the success of every modern company.
It’s good practice to organise DE&I days or even a week dedicated to team collaboration and improving the blend of cultural fit vs. diversity. Use this to raise awareness and acceptance of every profile, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and similar.
5. Improve your communication efforts
Clear and open communication is critical when trying to blend cultural fit and diversity in the workplace. So, it’s vital to ensure that every employee is included and adequately informed on the latest company news or updates.
Use team collaboration tools that offer a centralised communication channel for everyone to stay in the loop and work coordinated. Tools like these can automate your staff scheduling, record timesheets, and ensure fair shift distribution. All in all, they’re a great way to blend cultural fit and diversity, especially in remote teams or shift working environments.
Hiring exclusively with cultural fit in mind carries the dangers of ending up with a homogenous group of employees that lacks innovation. Instead, try hiring with inclusivity, acceptance, and diversity in mind to increase your organisation’s creative output and performance as a whole.
Fostering an inclusive culture starts from the top levels of an organisation, from within. The leaders and managers have to realise the benefits of diversity to the productivity and performance of an organisation. Nurturing inclusivity as a company value is the best way to blend cultural fit and diversity in the workplace.
About the Author: Rob Press
Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.