Recruiting for cultural fit and recruiting for diversity could be seen as contradictory, but it all comes down to values.

What is cultural fit?

Organisational culture has many definitions.  One way to think about workplace culture is that it is “…how organisations ‘do things’ ”.  At Steople we think of culture as our shared values, norms and expectations, where our values are brought to life by our behaviours.  Culture makes an organisation unique – it creates the environment that you and your team want and feels comfortable working within, and that your customers and stakeholders experience when they work with you.

For there to be a good fit for your organisational culture, an individual needs to believe in the same core principles as the rest of your team (values) and act in ways that align with these values (behaviours).

If you are clear about what type of culture you want to foster and do what it takes to make that a reality, you have the opportunity to attract and hold onto talented people who are as passionate about your organisation and their work as you are.

What is diversity?

“Depending on who is answering, diversity usually means one of three things: demographic diversity (our gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on), experiential diversity (our affinities, hobbies, and abilities), and cognitive diversity (how we approach problems and think about things). All three types shape identity — or rather, identities”.

Bringing various attributes and perspectives to your organisation increases your ability to successfully work with different clients, solve numerous problems and make different decisions.  Diversity is about difference and the value of that difference.

People generally feel at ease being with others who they feel they have something in common with – which is where your recruitment team might get side-tracked into thinking that if they feel comfortable with someone they are the preferred candidate in terms of cultural fit.

How can you bring cultural fit and diversity together?

It’s about your values.  Values are the core principles that provide the foundation for how you work in your team, they underpin the achievement of your organisation’s purpose.  Values can be shared by people born into different demographics, who have different experiences and who use different ways of thinking.  By developing a meaningful set of values for your organisation and by living these values in everything you and your team do and say, you provide a solid base to build your recruitment process around.

What’s the cost of making the wrong recruitment decision?

It’s expensive to recruit someone new into your team.  It takes a lot of your time as a leader to work through the recruitment process and to ensure your new team member is introduced to their role in a way that helps them to be successful.  Add to that the cost of your HR team’s time, your team members’ time to help train your new person, the time it takes the new person to reach full productivity, and perhaps some recruitment agency fees, and you reach an eye-watering total cost of hiring someone new.

And if you choose the wrong person for the job, you have to go through the process all over again and spend that money all over again, plus a bit more if your team needs to cover that role for a period of time and their overall productivity drops or revenues are lost, or both.

If the person is in your organisation long enough, they may also have a negative impact on the engagement of the rest of your team and your organisation’s culture.  And culture (and arguably diversity) are part of the valuable intangible assets of your business when you view your organisation through a balanced scorecard lens.


How can you recruit for cultural fit and diversity?

Recruiting for cultural fit and diversity means you need to know what your values are and how to assess whether someone shares those values or not.

We see many of our clients focussing on whether someone can do “what” they need to do to get their job done, but they don’t spend enough time checking whether “how” people work will fit with their values.  This may be partly because it’s easier to understand if someone will know what they need to do.  It is more difficult to uncover people’s values, but it’s not impossible.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you are clear about what culture you want to foster in your organisation.  We’ve used different methods, for example, surveys, storytelling, sensemaking, focus groups and observation, to help our clients understand the culture they currently have and to articulate the culture they want, including working with them to define their values.

The next step is to develop your recruitment process to focus more on whether someone is a good match to the values of your organisation – opening up the possibilities for you to bring a more diverse range of people into your team.  To help achieve this, we’ve worked with our clients to:

  • Develop frameworks to clearly identify not only what skills, but also what values and behaviours, people need to demonstrate in all the roles across their business,
  • Update role descriptions with values and expected behaviours to make it clear that these are just as important as the more technical aspects of each role,
  • Design questions for their recruitment interviews to understand whether people are likely to value the same things as the business, how they are likely to behave in certain circumstances, and their preferred way of thinking about problems and making decisions, and
  • Select, use and (most importantly) interpret appropriate, valid assessment tools to understand whether a potential new team member is likely to have the values and behaviours that align with the culture of their team, and thinking styles that will complement those of other team members.

The very first step in walking the delicate balance of recruiting for cultural fit and diversity is to get very clear about your values.  To start your thinking about this, we’d like to share our Steople values:

Image - Steople Values

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you recruit for cultural fit and diversity, please contact us to discuss your needs.