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Cultural fit: A cop-out for discrimination?

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HC Online | 31 Oct 2013, 12:03 AM Agree 0
Despite becoming a hallmark of modern recruitment, cultural fit is not without its critics. Is it providing a discrimination cop-out? Is it fundamentally flawed?
  • MM | 31 Oct 2013, 03:05 PM Agree 0
    Cultural fit is also a good excuse for age discrimination. I have often heard the words "we are a young vibrant company" and need someone to fit our company. They reject any applicant who in not under 25. Of course, they haven't yet met the person or talked to them and can't actually derive their attitudes or thoughts from a resume, but it is the excuse used all the time anyway
  • Grant | 31 Oct 2013, 03:12 PM Agree 0
    Unfortunately, as with many good ideas in theory, sometimes the application ends up being unfair. Ideally you want people with the right attitude for the job but that should not mean you only hire one type of person or that you do not explain to people why they might not have been the right 'fit' for the job. Having a workplace with a diverse range of views is the only way to encourage robust discussion that leads to genuine progress.
  • Non Smoker | 31 Oct 2013, 03:19 PM Agree 0
    I joined a team of 10 and I am the only non smoker. Fortunately the other 9 go outside to smoke, however that leaves me on my own :(
  • JWager | 31 Oct 2013, 03:40 PM Agree 0
    What the hell is a "conversation designer"?
  • Michael Boehm | 31 Oct 2013, 03:44 PM Agree 0
    That depends on which aspect of culture one is focusing. Culture attributed to ethnicity is clearly discriminatory. That said, there is the question, is there a culture that is discrete and unrelated to culture linked to an ethnicity? Someone wrote "attitude". Is "culture" over used? Or misused, when we actually mean "attitude". But culture is the flavour of the time. Or is it? My preferred is having the right "attitude / disposition".
  • jeff thompson | 31 Oct 2013, 03:57 PM Agree 0
    I believe you are using too narrow a definition of "cultural fit". Lizz Pellet, in her book, The Cultural Fit Factor, defines it as "how we can find the right fit in our professional experience; how the strategic thinkers in Human Resources can find the people who will fit in their organizations and have the ultimate authentic and congruent work experience;". This is premised on "best for employer and best for
    employee" philosophy. Implemented correctly and you should get "non-fits" self selecting out. Best for all outcomes.
  • Morshed Jalal | 31 Oct 2013, 04:26 PM Agree 0
    I feel pity for the organizations not benefiting from diverse workforce. Be it a management beckon or the folly of stereotyped recruiters, this needs to be sorted out, audited and a corrective policy should be in place. I found many many potential candidates are overlooked in the first place just because their names don't sound like familiar.

    Australian government is making money by enticing skilled people, but it appeared that the employers don't need highly skilled people. They prefer a much less experienced, naive "bubbly" employee than an accomplished talent. I am not saying all the recruitment processes are unfair, but a larger share of it is actually unfair. It is a saying here - it doesn't matter what you know, but who you know.
  • Judy | 01 Nov 2013, 10:04 AM Agree 0
    Culture fit is just a terminology for discrimination as the company sees fit. It can be age, gender, race or religion based; that's what culture is all about.
  • Sebastian Harvey | 01 Nov 2013, 12:24 PM Agree 0
    Selection decisions on cultural fit must be made alongside EEO factors.

    I define assessment of cultural fit as being about values and style. This alignment of personal values with organisational values can be done through exploring how and why people have done things in the past. Style is not just about personality but more about a person's approach to decision-making, leadership etc. These are both important for the organisation and the individual.

    When you have defined the values and style you are seeking you need to make sure your assessment methods do not directly or indirectly discriminate against people on the attributes protected by law (and almost every Australian organisation's policies).

    It might be better to talk about 'values' fit. some find it difficult to talk about culture without including race, ethnic origin, age etc. in their definition. 'Organisational Culture' is usually defined by other factors.
  • Michael Boehm | 11 Nov 2013, 10:11 AM Agree 0
    Again. "Culture fit", if it has also attributes of age, religion, ethnicity, etc etc, much of which may be silent, is potentially discriminatory. As with all things discriminatory, it is not unusual for those least affected to not recognise the signs.
  • Anonymous123 | 19 Nov 2013, 08:27 AM Agree 0
    I agree with Michael where cultural fit really means attitude. It's well known that most people in general if given the choice between a highly qualified person who they don't feel a connection with and an OK qualified candidate that they feel they feel a spark of friendship/professional relationship - they will go for the second person. Why? Because it is human nature. You spend a large portion of your life working, why wouldn't hiring managers want to find people who are a good fit for a team?

    Also, I want to point out something that I find gets skated around. Many foreign workers come on a skilled visa looking for work and tend to assume that they are not finding work because they are being discriminated against. Although I don't dispute that this is likely happening in some instances, let's remember that if you as a candidate cannot communicate well then that is a lack of skill.

    Foreign workers not able to find work should spend time focussing on their English comprehension and communication(both verbal and written) skills.
  • | 06 Dec 2015, 05:01 PM Agree 0
    I never fit in to anywhere I have worked and that kind of rejection makes me talk to people less and so it becomes even worse. People think im a too kind person, unmanly or rude because i don't know how to socialize in their un-genuine way and it makes me hate the world more because i can't imagine why humans are acting as enemies. It is so serious to the point that 'not a cultural fit' between countries causes wars and now we have terrorism all because of these basic forms of passive violence such as rejection which is like saying not worthy of existence.
  • larry | 25 Apr 2017, 02:13 AM Agree 0
    I have gotten the "not a cultural fit" excuse from places where African-Americans predominate in the office, but more often from "Millies" who discriminate on basis of age. I am 57, white and male. I am educated. I don't throw 12-letter words around offices. I try fitting in as best I can. Two weeks ago, had an interview for a customer service position I really wanted. Interviewers were no older than 25, so of course I didn't get the position - it went to a woman their age. Last week I got a job at a convenience store and when I protested at how the 30-year-old manager (Jamaican immigrant) was telling me I was "slow" and "old" I called the district manager and this idiot LITERALLY slapped me in the face for complaining. I called the police, a report was written and I believe he was either fired or suspended. I am trying to decide whether to file charges now. Believe me, it doesn't always go from whites being discriminatory - blacks and Millies do it too.
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