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How to keep ‘culture fit’ from killing workplace diversity

Sharon Florentine | Sept. 7, 2017
Workplace culture can be a strong determining factor for success. But emphasising culture fit when hiring can result in an unhealthy monoculture if you aren’t taking steps to foster diversity and inclusion.

“If you’re hiring only for cultural fit, it’s like planting a forest with only one kind of tree — you get a monoculture. It’s not sustainable; so we focus on what our values are as a company, and how each individual we consider hiring embody those. We don’t hire specifically for culture fit, but on how those values are lived by candidates,” Wittenberg says.

Making sure that recruiters, hiring managers and internal stakeholders represent diverse groups and diversity of thought also ensures a more effective hiring process, says Pat Wadors, chief human resources officer and SVP at LinkedIn.

“We have united hiring committees that screen for both the technical and the soft skills,” Wadors says. “We’re looking for things like agile learners, coding ability, architecture, their discipline and drive and how they measure the quality of their work.”

Intel, too, focuses on having an intersectional hiring team working to source and screen intersectional candidates, says Barb Whye, vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Intel, and to ensure candidates are in line with Intel’s values from the start.

“First and foremost, we operate based on our value systems. We hire based on whether or not candidates are innovative, results-oriented, accountable, driven, and whether they can demonstrate open, honest communication skills. Part of that inclusive methodology is that, yes, we have a diverse panel of interviewers, but we also demand diverse candidates. Another thing: We require that a formal job requisition is always posted; none of this sliding in candidates based on their friendship with an employee, or getting around our process. And that goes all the way from the highest executive levels down,” Whye says.

To create a phenomenally diverse and inclusive culture, you have to have transparency, accountability, education, and you have to have diversity and inclusion running through every single thing you do, Trinidad says, at every level of the organization. But that doesn’t mean that every person hired has to be a diversity advocate from day one, she says. Education and people development is an incredibly important part of Lever’s strategy, Trinidad says.

“We have to bring people on board first, and then bring them along to inform them about why this is important. Why are gender-neutral bathrooms important? Why are we developing employee resource groups to amplify voices of people of color? LGBTQ? Why is intersectionality important? Why are we working with finance to ensure pay equity? We focus on threading inclusion through every single thing we do here,” she says.

Whether you’ve been a diverse, inclusive organization from the start or you’re making efforts to get there, know that the process takes time and effort, but that it’s achievable. While culture is an important aspect of attracting and retaining top IT talent, make sure you’re not inadvertently creating exactly the kind of culture you don’t want.


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