Choose ‘Culture Add’ Over ‘Culture Fit’


As your company grows, adding new employees to the mix will present an ongoing challenge. “Company culture” seems to be the buzzword on every recruiter’s lips, but what kind of culture are you really promoting?

You want a workplace that is diverse and inclusive, but you also need a team that works well together and has your core objectives as a common goal. This means you may need to shy away from traditional “culture fit” hires and focus instead on “culture add” recruitment.

What is Culture Fit?

Some years ago, the concept of a “mission-driven” workplace became the new holy grail for companies; every new hire needed to have complete devotion to the company’s vision. This practice of hiring like minds, however, also unintentionally led to homogeneity across all characteristics. 

Workplaces became increasingly narrower and blander, with white males between the ages of 22 and 45 dominating almost every major vertical. Tech, finance, business and other competitive industries were the hardest hit with many companies hiring “Stanford degrees, tenure at Google, white, male, been-coding-since-childhood” candidates. 

Major companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo revealed in 2014 that only 1% of their workers were black,  and it became glaringly apparent that “culture fit” was problematic in more ways than one. 

Referral hiring added to the “culture sameness” problem. Almost half of new hires are referred by existing employees, meaning predominantly white men were referring their friends and colleagues who were also mostly white men. Nothing was changing. The push for culture fit froze the needle.

Not only did culture fit lead to narrow hiring practices, but it also led to narrow perspectives and thinking. making it difficult to reach customer bases that were also similarly homogenized. Companies began failing badly at relating to women, POC, LGBT and other groups. 

What is Culture Add?

In response to culture fit, “culture add” began to gain ground by helping companies identify areas for improvement both internally and externally. In many cases, the narrow demographic that made up a company’s workforce was blissfully unaware of their internal blind spots. 

Employers who adopt a culture add process are willing to look at their company from a new angle. They are prepared to hire talent that is suited to the task of pushing company growth from within, and conducting outreach from an informed perspective that matches a new segment of your audience. 

Culture Within a D/I Framework

Company culture within a diversity and inclusivity framework focuses on what fresh dishes a new hire can bring to the table. The focus is on their ability to awaken entirely new taste buds, not merely whether they can frost the same cake differently than everyone else.   

By encouraging diversity in hiring, you open the door to innovation. By promoting inclusivity in the workplace, you make room at the table. By embracing culture add instead of culture fit, you make new experiences possible for both your team and your consumers.

Dissolving Culture Sameness

Adopting a culture add approach to recruitment and hiring can have the added benefit of dissolving culture sameness, making your workplace more attractive to diverse candidates. The increased diversity drives inclusivity and inclusivity engenders increased diversity. 

Over time, your workplace naturally loses its homogeneity and begins to resemble the consumer base it (hopefully) serves. When you say goodbye to cookie-cutter culture and actively seek to diversify not for the sake of diversity, but the purpose of diverse perspectives your company will thrive.  

Adjusting Corporate Perspective

How do you get top-down buy-in for diversity and inclusivity? While D/Is self-evident merit can often provide enough incentive, sometimes case studies are needed to help with motivation.

A significant study across 1,700 companies in six countries found that organizations with diverse teams in leadership had 19 percent higher revenues thanks to improved innovation. (That’s motivation enough for any CEO.)

Embracing Cultural Contributions

Once you’ve adopted diverse hiring, focus on inclusivity. Embrace the cultural contributions of your new hires, and make sure they are accorded respect. The goal of diversity isn’t a more interesting team photo, it’s the ability to reach out and interact with people on the outside of an organization with increased fluency and cognizance. 

Are you looking for ways to ramp up diverse and inclusive hiring within your own organization? Mentor Spaces can help. Contact us for insights into sourcing new hires today.