We have all heard it during the recruitment process - “we are looking for a culture fit with our company” - some of us may have even said it ourselves; but looking for a culture fit can be underpinned by unconscious bias, lack of innovation and cause your business to lose out on the best available talent in the market.
Let's break this down.
Hiring for ‘culture fit’ can create unconscious bias
Test yourself, have a look at the photos above and decide which one you would hire as your new Product Manager. Think about why you chose that person. Were any of the reasons to do with yourself and the people you have worked with previously? It’s human nature that we unconsciously lean towards what we know, but when doing so, we may actively be excluding people for no reason other than an unconscious bias, and in turn, missing out on someone with amazing talent. Gender certainly fits into this arena. If your ‘culture fit’ is one that works hard and plays hard, chances are you may unconsciously choose to not hire a woman with children, even though she is the best candidate.
When you start to hire for ‘culture add’, you start to see people for what they can add to your business, not what you need for your culture. Take the example above; while the woman may not want to go to the pub every Friday night, her insights into what matters more to families could be invaluable to your business strategy. A great idea is to identify the core ‘culture’ of your business, and identify the gaps you can fill in your recruitment process. Having people from all walks of life will take your business to the next level and ensure you have a wide variety of opinions and ideas at the table.
‘Culture fit’ can sometimes turn into ‘friends network’
We all want to help our friends land the best job and share our great company culture and benefits with them - but this is a pitfall to watch out for. It may seem like a win-win; your company gets great new talent into a role, your friend gets a great job, you get the warm feeling of helping, but beware - this can lead to group-think. Chances are you and your friends have similar thoughts on the way the world - and a product/service - should work, and you likely have similar cultural habits. This could stymie innovation in the long run.
Hiring for ‘culture add’ ensures you are hiring the best available talent in the market, not just the most available talent in the market. To help diversify your thoughts and strategies, looking for people from different backgrounds and skills is vital. It may take a little more time, but hiring the right person to add to your business is a better goal than adding people that ‘fit’ and may just conform to the status quo.
‘Culture add’ breeds innovation
We all love to think that our ideas are the best - and sometimes they are - but even the mighty Apple took two people of varying skills and talents to build it. Take our very own CEO’s, Gemma & Valeria - one sales background, one marketing background - two very mighty women to have an impact on the world and, together, ensure that women thrive in their workplaces. With each other, and the many other great team members of WORK180, we have been able to diversify our ideas and innovate as a product to provide our clients and candidates with the tools they need (and there’s more coming) to stay on the road to continuous improvement for their workforces.
Ensuring you hire for ‘culture add’ will keep your business on its toes. The best companies are built on collaboration, open ideas and feedback - feedback can come from anywhere, as can innovation. Avoid hiring for ‘culture fit’ and falling behind your competitors through lack of innovation and diversity.
Looking past your candidate resumes and into what motivates them, what makes them want to work for you and what they can add to your culture, will help create an environment of innovation, of ensuring you stay ahead of your competitors.
About the author
To help women find a workplace that will work for them, we prescreen employers on their gender pay gap data, parental leave policies, flexible working, and more. Find your next role on the WORK180 job board.