If Hiring for Culture Fit Is Causing a Lack of Diversity, You’re Doing It Wrong

A lot of skeptics out there will tell you that hiring for culture fit causes a lack of diversity. The truth is that if managing your culture and recruiting for fit has caused a lack of diversity, then you’re doing it all wrong. In fact, if the process of identifying “which one is not like the others” impacts the diversity and inclusiveness of your workforce, you need to reevaluate how you define fit within your organization.

Hiring for culture fit should attract individuals who share similar values, beliefs and characteristics as your organization. At the same time, it should not discourage hiring employees who bring diverse thinking, personalities, backgrounds, thought processes, ethnicity, religion, race, physical ability, etc.

Diversity and inclusion has been—and will continue to be—defined in many ways. As the workplace evolves, inclusion should be at the forefront of maintaining a high performing and sustainable workforce. Moving beyond the definition of diversity as being representative of diverse differences, we should consider how inclusive diversity can transform our organizations to be more collaborative, more innovative and more competitive.

So how do you hire for culture fit and encourage diversity and inclusion?

When evaluating diversity in your organization, it’s important to consider both a surface level and a deep level of diversity. If you are like most everyone else, diversity is initially acknowledged at the surface level. Mahommed and Angell cite surface level diversity as being based on observable traits (age, gender, functional background, tenure, etc.). Deep level diversity should also be considered—it involves a person’s beliefs, personality and values, and becomes more important and valuable to the group over time.

So ask yourself, “Do I lack diversity in my organization? If so, is it surface level or deep level diversity?” Understanding diversity from both perspectives can help you find and manage talent for culture fit and diversity. Consider the below strategies you can use to help ensure your recruiting efforts encourage diversity and inclusion at all levels of your organization:

    • Evaluate your recruitment messaging
      When is the last time you looked at your recruitment messaging for groups that are currently not well represented at your organization? If it’s been a while, stop to determine whether your messaging unintentionally discourages under-represented groups from even applying. Then, work to create candidate-centric messaging that focuses on hiring diverse candidates.
    • Develop career progression and leadership programs for under-represented groups
      First, take time to identify whether barriers and accelerators to advancement exist organization-wide. Pay close attention to the responses of under-represented groups. Then, work to create programs that specifically help diverse employees develop leadership skills that can assist them in their current roles and beyond.
    • Involve your Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and seek out additional perspectives
      In a recent stakeholder interview, one participant mentioned the importance of identifying with employees of similar backgrounds. He shared “When I first came to the organization, I had preconceived ideas, [but then] seeing the make-up of the team made me feel comfortable in that there is room for growth, and [diversity] is something that is valued.” Many organizations demonstrate their value for diversity and have well established ERGs, but it’s important to take it a step further. Think about how collaboration can be increased between these groups. Get members involved in the recruiting, onboarding and professional development initiatives within your organization. Seek out additional perspectives and get the perspectives of diverse individuals who are not actively part of ERGs. Now is the time for these groups to evolve, be leveraged and included in the growth and success of the business.

When was the last time you tuned in to your culture?

Understanding your culture is foundational to your success in diversifying your workforce and managing your culture. If you have no idea who you are, current and potential employees will also lack understanding of what they can expect from your organization, too. Gaining insight into your organizational culture takes a partner that can help you benchmark where you are currently, then work with you to start attracting diverse talent who share similar cultural values, but also bring a unique perspective—and competitive advantage—to your organization.