Culture fit and diversity

In one discussion on Twitter, I met the opinion that culture fit is contrary to diversity when hiring, since it allows you to refuse suitable candidates under a plausible pretext. Already in the next remark, an addition was made — if the company now consists of white graduates of a certain college, then the requirement of compliance with the established culture actually limits the range of possible candidates to both a certain college and a certain race.

Let's take a break from the requirements of diversity and think further. There is a fairly well-known concept of distortion in machine learning, when a model trained, for example, on crime data in Harlem, begins to consider skin color as one of the factors influencing crime. Culture fit in this case is just such a distortion — the coincidence of cultural values with an existing set of employees or with the management is an important factor that negates or reduces the influence of the main ones. If the company believes that it employs young, creative, sociable and fun employees, then the chances of a forty-year-old introvert are not very much, right? And, if you imagine that you are promoting your vacancies to a conditional look-a-like audience, the source for which is your current employees, then a person who does not match it in profile will not even see your ad.

But, apart from the obvious analogy with machine learning, there is a less obvious one - with genetics. The process when breeders are engaged in crossing closely related organisms to enhance the target characteristics is called inbreeding. And, although it leads to an increase in the constancy of the necessary characteristics — for example, a certain sugar content in varieties of technical grapes or a certain shape of ears in a breed of hunting dogs, but the risk of developing recessive traits is also quite high and can lead to the appearance of defective genes with corresponding problems for the individual. And the rigidly promoted culture fit-consciously or subconsciously, as is often the case with startups-can also lead to company problems-I have repeatedly observed how "young, dynamically developing companies" either turned out to be unable to cope with, as they now say, toxic personalities, or stopped in development. That is, they either lost their immunity, or degenerated.

So, when promoting the idea of matching candidates to the company's culture, do not forget to ensure the diversity of this very culture.

Jake Kasinski

Jake Kasinski

Enterprise Agile Transformation Coach, Trainer, Consultant