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The Culture Fit Myth

3 min read
culture fit

As the evidence for Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace mounts, the idea of Culture Fit is fast falling from favour. Recruitment attitudes are shifting to consider how diverse candidates can contribute to the culture instead of fitting into it, and hiring processes at forward-thinking companies are being examined in order to remove the notion altogether.

What is Cultural Fit?

Once an integral feature of most corporate recruitment processes, the term Cultural Fit was basically understood to mean someone who you’d be happy to go for a beer with. Highly subjective and completely arbitrary to whether someone is going to excel at the job or not, the act of hiring people based on whether we’d be happy to spend time with them outside of work is inherently flawed. Research proves that, unconscious or not, we’re all subject to bias and that our brains are wired towards pattern and similarity. When considering potential candidates, this means we’re statistically more likely to hire people like us which then breeds a homogenous culture and limits diversity of thought. “Not a cultural fit” became a blanket excuse for candidates that didn’t meet hiring managers’ preconceived idea of what the right person for the job should look like, sound like, even dress like.

As companies have come to realise that greater diversity yields greater profitability, the more forward thinking enterprises are looking beyond previously utilised advertising channels to fill roles,  and re-thinking old-fashioned hiring criteria.

The End of “Culture Fit”

Some of the world’s most successful and sought after companies to work for are putting greater emphasis on examining their internal teams and cultivating more diversity. The term “Culture Fit” is now banned at Facebook and interviewers are required to provide more specific feedback that supported their position. Interviews there were restructured to align with their 5 core values  and they even developed their own Managing Bias Training programme which is available to the public.

“At Facebook, we’ve explicitly asked interviewers not to use the term ‘culture fit’ when giving feedback on a candidate because that phrase can easily allow bias to influence the outcome of an interview. As part of a larger effort to help people identify and correct for the biases that we all inherently have, interviewers at Facebook go through managing bias training and are encouraged to use the skills they’ve learned when interviewing candidates.”

– Facebook Spokesperson

The Case for “Culture Add”

At Pandora, the term has evolved to “Culture Add” which has grown from an internal conversational term, into a formalised process embedded throughout the organisation. The notion of Culture Add reflects their Northern Star for Diversity which states that for them, “diversity is not a trend, it’s embedded in who we are and ingrained in everything we do. It’s reflected in our rich musical universe and that’s a direct result of people and their vibrant experiences.”

Culture fit or “Values Fit”

Another way to rethink the term Culture Fit for 2019 is as “Values Fit”. Australian Software and Project Management tool Atlassian has restructured their recruitment strategy to shift the focus upon candidates who will thrive in an environment with their company values, as the main priority. One of these values is about “Openness” – which, by publishing their diversity figures for all to see on their website, they are clearly committed to.

“Focusing on “values fit” ensures we hire people who share our sense of purpose and guiding principles, while actively looking for those with diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and skill sets. We’re trying to build a healthy and balanced culture, not a cult.”

– Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion

Building a diverse and inclusive culture rarely happens organically. In order to become an inclusive employer there needs to be deliberate effort and commitment from senior management in all departments. Introducing a “Blind Recruitment” process for full time hires is a big project, which won’t automatically eliminate unconscious bias, but will be a step in the right direction. To start experimenting with blind recruitment – try hiring a Weployee for a short term project or a temp role for a few days this week. With our One Day Guarantee – if it doesn’t work out, you have nothing to lose.

Read How to Be Better In Decision Making

This article originally appeared here.


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