Don’t let cultural fit undermine diversity

Content Team

Diversity matters to the success of companies. Multiple studies have found that businesses with a diverse workforce outperform those with less gender, racial and ethnic diversity. Companies whose employees vary by race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and ability are more innovative and agile. A 2016 study by Bersin found companies with strong diversity and inclusion strategies are 1.7 times more likely to lead their industry in innovation and have 2.3 times greater cash flow per employee.1

Despite this knowledge, companies struggle to move the needle on diversity. In 2014, Google launched an ongoing initiative to improve diversity on its employee rolls. Between 2013 and 2016, black employees remained just 2 percent of the Google workforce, female employees stayed at 29 percent during the same period, and Latino employees grew from 3 to 5 percent.2 Though tech has been in the hot seat for diversity shortfalls recently, it exists in finance, manufacturing, and most sectors to varying degrees.

Increasingly, recruiting and HR professionals are looking at ‘cultural fit’ as one possible stumbling block to diversity improvements. Cultural fit is important in hiring. Assessing for ‘fit’ ensures a manager who prefers a hierarchical structure isn’t offered the job at a flat organization, or a candidate who enjoys working solo isn’t hired at a team-oriented company. In such cases, these would be mis-hires, and these people would be unlikely to stay long.

Cultural fit can all too easily thwart diversity efforts, however, when it’s misunderstood, when the hiring team itself lacks diversity, and when there is no analysis of outcomes. Here’s how to ensure hiring for ‘fit’ doesn’t lead to a homogeneous workforce:

Shift to ‘Culture Add’

Rather than focusing on ‘fit,’ companies are paying more attention to the unique qualities and experiences candidates can bring to the organization. For example, a company with a high percentage of job-hopping Millennial employees may find they benefit from the consistency older talent provides. Or companies may focus on hiring people with soft skills their organization lacks. Above all, a ‘culture add’ ethos should be authentic, and it should permeate all business-to-talent touchpoints, from the careers page to onboarding to company events.

Jettison the ‘Beer Test’

For decades, after a candidate’s hard skills were established, many hiring managers have depended on the ‘beer test’ to decide whether to bring someone on board. This comes down to: would I enjoy this person’s company over a beer after work? The problem with this is that humans have an unconscious bias that makes them more comfortable around people who look and think like them. The simple truth is, whether you would enjoy grabbing a beer with someone does not reflect their ability to shine in the role. Minimizing unconscious bias begins with educating hiring managers about its influence and developing strategies to counteract it. This may include asking critical questions about why resumés are discarded, or encouraging input (and dissenting opinions!) on resumés and interviews from a diverse hiring team.

Refine your job description

Attracting diverse talent begins with the job description, both how it’s written and where it’s posted. To attract younger candidates, using social media platforms is a must. To attract more racially diverse candidates, make sure the posting is seen at job fairs at colleges with a large minority population. Some language used in job descriptions may be off-putting to different groups. For example, women may avoid applying for jobs when the descriptions are heavily laden with masculine-coded words, such as ‘ninja’ or ‘competitive.’

Support diversity after hiring

Employers show commitment to diversity in the day-to-day operations of their business through the creation of minority employee associations, mentoring programs, and diversity in the C-suite.

Measure and maintain

As you implement strategies to improve diverse hiring, analyze the results to pinpoint what’s working and what is missing the mark. Then, as you start to hit diversity goals, keep going. It’s easy to slip back into unconscious hiring without knowing it.

Need help with diversity hiring? Contact Hudson RPO.


1 Bersin, Josh. ‘Why Diversity And Inclusion Will Be A Top Priority For 2016.” Forbes Contributer. Forbes. Web. 6 Dec 2016.
2 Kokalitcheva, Kia. “Google’s Diversity Efforts Fall Flat.” Axios. Web. 9 Aug 2017.

Hudson RPO

Content Team

The Hudson RPO Content Team is made up of experts within the Talent Acquisition industry across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. They provide educational and critical business insights in the form of research reports, articles, news, videos, podcasts, and more. The team ensures high-quality content that helps all readers make talent decisions with confidence.

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