The vast majority of employers want to create work environments that are welcoming to diverse groups of staff and clients. (And I’m guessing that our readers share our desire to one day be able to begin that sentence with ALL employers). So given that it’s what most of us desire, why is true diversity not as commonplace as we’d like?
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, here’s one contributing factor: While we crave diversity and inclusion, we are all also committed to our corporate cultures. We want to hire to perpetuate what we experience as a positive, healthy work environment. However, it’s essential to be clear on what builds and perpetuates culture. Human Resources Consultant Patty McCord proposes that “What most people mean by culture fit is hiring people they’d like to have a beer with.” What appears on the surface to be good business practice may in fact be a barrier to our end goal.
The article’s author Sue Shellenbarger poses the following question: “How can bosses make sure they are hiring for meaningful shared values rather than superficial sameness?” Here’s how she differentiates:
What it is:
- Shared enthusiasm about a company’s mission or purpose
- A common approach to working, together or individually
- A mutual understanding of how to make decisions and assess risk
What it’s not:
- A common educational, cultural or career background
- A sense of comfort and familiarity with co-workers
- Shared enjoyment of such perks as ping pong and craft beer
While those of us whose careers have been primarily in the nonprofit sector may not have experienced those kinds of “perks,” we may have unwittingly leaned towards hiring those we’d could see hanging out with after work or at a charitable event. Clear delineation of the work-based values that define our desired culture – and checking ourselves to ensure that they support inclusion instead of exclusion – is a great start to ensuring a welcoming, diverse environment.