Why you need to hire for culture add and not exclusively for culture fit

09 October 2020

In a corporate setting, conforming to a clear-cut company culture can immediately make a candidate more alluring to the hiring manager. Unfortunately, many organisations get caught up in this restrictive culture fit mindset – or, in other words, the idea of hiring carbon copies of their existing employees. It’s assumed that these are the candidates who will instantly fit in, meshing well with other staff and contributing to the overall sense of community spirit.

Hiring for culture add, on the other hand, completely shatters this mould. Shifting to a culture add mindset enables employers to focus on what unique skills, experiences and opinions a candidate could bring to the table, rather than how they differ from the rest of the team. By foregoing familiarity and stepping out of their comfort zone, organisations open themselves up to a plethora of opportunities to bring diverse talent into their businesses.

Future-proof your business

It’s certainly no secret that diversity boosts the bottom line. Research conducted by McKinsey has shown that businesses in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability, compared to their peers in the fourth quartile. In 2014, this figure sat comfortably at just 15 per cent, proving that the likelihood of outperforming competitors on overall profitability is significantly increasing over time.

However, a diverse workforce does not automatically equate to a culture of inclusion. Successfully adopting a culture add mindset requires a genuine desire to encourage, amplify and implement alternative viewpoints. Everyone’s opinions should be seen as of equal importance, and each employee should feel confident in voicing them. Employees who feel empowered, respected and purposeful are far more likely to remain loyal to their employer, whereas those who don’t have a mere 35 per cent chance of committing to long-term career progression within the company.

Mix up the melting pot

Homogeneity stifles creativity and innovation, ultimately leading to stagnation and an echo chamber of indistinguishable views. Further down the line, it’s not uncommon for these companies to receive criticism when it comes to their approach to diversity and inclusion. A successful new hire and their employer should share similar core values, such as trust, integrity and teamwork, but be able to look beyond more shallow differences like their hometown or education history. The boldness needed to challenge differing perspectives, as well as their own, shouldn’t be underestimated – but it mustn’t become a point of contention.

It’s crucial that we recognise the barriers faced by candidates from minority backgrounds too. Once a new hire has been onboarded, businesses must also strive to remove any obstacles preventing them from progressing in their role. In a survey carried out by The Grey Area, 57 per cent of women and ethnic minority men claimed that their employer does not provide them with opportunities to communicate these challenges, and nearly 62 per cent believed that their ethnic background had played a role in missing a pay raise, promotion, key assignment, or chance to progress.

Take the road less travelled

Unconscious bias infiltrates decisions at each and every stage of the hiring process. Candidate referrals tend to come from a culture fit point of view, rather than culture add. Naturally, employees tend to gravitate towards other professionals who are similar to themselves – and when the time comes, they’ll dip into their network to consider which of their contacts might be the perfect fit for a vacancy at their place of work. This is where the problem lies.

At all levels of the business, employees must be open-minded and eager to learn about cultures that are different to their own. Culture in itself comprises countless different aspects, not just race, ethnicity and gender, but personal beliefs and lived experiences too. It’s time for organisations to pivot, adopting a culture add – rather than culture fit – approach. And, in an inclusive environment where individuals are applauded for their uniqueness, both employers and employees alike will begin to truly flourish.