Culture Fit and Diversity - Can They Work Together?

As companies begin to appreciate the benefits of a cohesive positive culture, ‘cultural fit’ is permeating recruiting approaches, but is it at the expense of diversity?

Back in 2005 Hillary Anger Elfenbein and Charles A. O’Reilly, identified in their study on relational demography and culture fit that the ideologies behind culture fit and hiring for diversity lead in two different directions. If the link was unclear then, it’s become even more muddled today.

However, diversity and culture are both important parts of companies that can work together once you understand their benefits and make them part of your recruiting efforts.

Why Diversity is Important  
A diverse workforce brings different perspectives and experiences into the workplace. These differences allow people to see, frame and solve problems through different lenses. As Scientific American puts it, “decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

Overall, there is a compelling body of evidence that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams when it comes to problem solving, risk mitigation, innovation and sales outcomes. If you can put measures in place to hire more diverse teams, then you’re on your way to higher business performance.

Why Culture is Important
People are more engaged at work when they are part of a positive workplace culture. This engagement leads to better retention, better performance, better customer service, and happier employees.

Companies in the top 10% of engagement scores significantly outperformed those with the bottom 10% of engagement scores, according to our 2016 New Tech Benchmark report.

Culture and Diversity In The Interview Process
At Greenhouse, it’s part of Recruiting Manager Jacqui Maguire’s role to educate employees on how to interview. Once employees have worked at Greenhouse for more than three months, they can sign up to be a culture fit interviewer.

This process includes culture fit interview training in which employees learn how a candidate fits with the values of Greenhouse. Maguire says, “we defined six cultural attributes at Greenhouse and created questions that address each of them. Our culture interviewers can then ask consistent questions to compare candidates apples-to-apples on whether someone is ambitious and effective, and whether they're authentic and open-minded."

In addition to specific culture interview training, Greenhouse runs general interview training for anyone who is a new interviewer. Maguire says this covers “everything from being aware of unconscious bias to EEOC laws and also specifically, how we do things here at Greenhouse and what the hiring process looks like.”

Having your company’s culture clearly defined allows you to interview candidates based on those values and avoid bias.

The Next Step: Inclusion
Culture and diversity can work together hand in hand. Once employees are onboard, having an inclusive culture is the next step in keeping them. Aleah Warren, managing consultant at Paradigm says, “environments that aren't sufficiently inclusive can cause uncertainty among people from underrepresented backgrounds as they struggle to figure out whether and how they fit in. This drains mental resources that otherwise could be applied to work, leading to lower performance and engagement.”

When environments are inclusive, people feel a sense of value and belonging. Their perspective is taken into consideration, and behaviors and processes exist to ensure that no one is systematically excluded.

To help companies measure their diversity and inclusion efforts, Culture Amp has partnered with Paradigm to create an Inclusion Survey.
 

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