Balancing diversity with cultural fit

Written by
Changeboard Team

28 Apr 2014

28 Apr 2014 • by Changeboard Team

The importance of diversity

And with many companies increasingly recognising the need for diversity in the business, the option to move away from a specific culture has become more appealing. But are we aiming too much for one goal without looking at the wider picture?

Needless to say, diversity is at the top of the HR agenda. In an increasingly global business environment, organisations have greater access to a diverse range of talent which they need to attract in order to remain competitive. And with the EU proposals on the number of women required at board level, the idea of creating an environment which is conducive to diversity is a top business objective.

As a legal recruitment agency we are often told about a law firm’s diversity and equality policy and the importance of attracting people from different backgrounds. However the reality is often different and some firms tend to gravitate towards the type of candidates they are most familiar with.

When firms look outside the traditional mould, they are often surprised by the amount of talent out there. A diverse workforce is advantageous to better client understanding and different backgrounds within a company can increase commerciality. By listening to the advice of experienced consultants, companies create new avenues for growth by increasing their in-house skill-sets and client contacts.   

Balancing cultural fit

However, as diversity slowly becomes more of a tick–box exercise in a few cases, there is a risk of losing sight of the real end goal. While the board may see diversity as a CSR exercise that makes the company more appealing, HR professionals need to make sure this is balanced with the current workforce.

Obviously creating an atmosphere which encourages diversity is beneficial, but this has to have an element of meaningful change, rather than simply introducing alterations for the sake of them.  When bringing in new recruits it needs to be considered whether they will fit in with the culture of the business as well. If they are too at odds with the existing teams, chances are there will be a level of disruption for the individual and those working around them.

Taking the reigns

So, while diversity is important, we can’t lose sight of what we’re aiming to achieve: a co-operative workforce with the talent and skills to take the business forward. HR professionals need to do a balancing act of the benefits of diversity and the cultural fit of individuals in order to see a real impact.

Looking beyond the normal routes to source new talent is highly advisable if you want to find the best candidate to support any business growth objectives in the future. But don’t lose sight of the talent you have already worked hard to develop internally.

And don’t be afraid to challenge the board on any decisions. If you think individuals are hiring mirror images of themselves, speak up and explain the why this is unadvisable. And on the other hand, if you think the corporate culture is being diluted, reign the diversity wagon back in and regain control. Remember, a business is only a strong as its weakest person, so make sure you’re attracting the best talent for your corporate culture.