Diversity in recruitment: The end of cultural fit?

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Cultural fit seems to have become a bit of a buzzword in recruitment in recent years, but should you hire people who you think will fit in with the status quo or focus on diversity and bringing new skills into your business?

Impact of cultural fit

It is widely considered that a candidate with a strong cultural fit is more likely to work well with other successful employees and stay on long-term. This is why Guv Jassal of Washington Frank International believes that cultural fit should be taken into account in your recruitment decisions. “A lot of technical elements of a role can be taught on the job, but passion and pride in your work can’t be faked,” he says.

Cultural fit is often seen as the most important factor to start-ups and SMEs. Small businesses often feel they need to find like-minded individuals who share similar work values around flexible hours and lower salaries.

It has even been suggested that poor cultural fit is to blame for as much as 89 per cent of hiring failures. Reading statistics like that will have anyone Googling “how to assess cultural fit” quicker than you can say, “What does workplace culture mean to you?”

Death of cultural fit?

A word of warning on cultural fit: it could be weeding out diverse talent and suppressing the diversity of experiences and ideas that can drive innovation and push your business forward. Companies can stagnate if they recruit an homogeneous team of people they believe have the ‘right’ cultural fit.

“A business succeeds when it is a diverse crew of people with aligned goals and vision,” says Abby Blackmore of Impero, whose independent creative agency has had more than nine new hires in the past few months alone.

Power of diversity

Some people wrongly equate diversity with discomfort and disagreements. If you want to get more diversity in your recruitment you will have to forget your idea of hiring people that like the same things you like, or do things the same way you do.

CIPHR has outlined seven reasons why you should embrace a diverse workforce:

  1. Improved understanding of your customer base
  2. Increased productivity
  3. Greater innovation and creativity
  4. Increased skillset
  5. Improved employee onboarding and retention
  6. A larger talent pool
  7. Positive employer branding

For SMEs and start-ups the most powerful benefits here are to increase the existing skill set of your business and boost the levels of innovation and creativity within your workforce.

Employees from different backgrounds will bring a variety of solutions and approaches to the table. As more diverse ideas are brought up and discussed you could improve your current processes in ways you’ve never thought of. This will ultimately be reflected in your bottom line.

Cultural fit and diversity needn’t be mutually exclusive. The business case for diversity in the workforce is clear and you can find people who align with your company’s values but aren’t carbon copies of your current employees.

Going forward, you need to clarify your businesses definition of cultural fit. Think of it as finding people who share the same values as your business, not finding people you would like to be friends with.


Jade Gillham


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