Why Culture Add? It’s all about Diversity.

Evolving from culture fit to culture add.
4 min read | by Jennifer Cameron
culture rocks


Finding the right company fit for employees has started to have unintended connotations; at least, for some. There are those who want to hire people who are just like everyone else in the company. Sure, having people around who act alike, think alike, and come from a similar set of experiences provides a feel-good environment. But is this the best approach to innovation and decision-making? Nope.

The meaning behind culture fit should not be efforts toward hiring more of the same. It really needs to be a fit for the values; how people can share a basic set of principles even if they come from different backgrounds and have wildly different experiences.

Having a culture fit should mean sharing the value of differences and healthy opposition; esteeming a plentitude of perspectives sitting around the table brainstorming on the most productive way to do something. Progression cannot happen without diversity of thought. And this is why Pandora introduced the idea and strategy behind “culture add.” It brings us back to basics: human resources. In this sense, I don’t mean a department or function in a company; I mean an organization’s greatest assets.

In a Deloitte study, it is stated that “Too many organizations try to engage employees around their commonalities, but instead they should focus on what differences each employee is able to contribute to a common mission at work.” This is what should define the culture…and you should recruit people who value the same.

Don’t hire based on the beer test. You know, the test of whether you would want to grab a beer after work. Don’t hire based on whether someone can get along with everybody else. Instead, hire based on qualities and skills which do not yet exist on your team. Hire based on what someone can add to the culture rather than mesh with it. Culture is like a crockpot soup recipe. You start with a base and add a different ingredient one at a time. Each ingredient intensifies and improves the soup as they work together to craft a bigger and better soup. There is a shared set of values and goals even though each individual ingredient brings something diverse to the whole group. The final arrangement ends up being a delicious collaboration.

Eventually, with a lack of diversity, your competition will surpass you. You will find you have shortsighted productivity levels because groupthink is likely to creep in. Indistinguishable perspectives become stale. Katherine Phillips of Northwestern University says, “When a newcomer comes in, it interrupts the group. It changes the flow of the process and makes people stop and pay attention to the person…We know though that not all new ideas come from newcomers. Sometimes new ideas are sitting in the group already, just waiting for the right moment to come up.” And this is where the value is added; when heterogenous minds come together the results are favorable.

culture rainbow bricks


Diversity and inclusion are at the root of culture fit. Ironic, eh? Well not really. Fit is about cohesion. And this connection can occur when the group has shared goals and expectations around the work. Most important is the top-down, bottom-up, all around devotion to creating a sense of inclusion. Your brand should represent your commitment to diversity through marketing, recruitment efforts, employee advancement and development opportunities, and your policies and procedures. Employee productivity and engagement will bloom. You will attract more diverse customers and be in a better position to provide greater service to them. And so, the lifecycle of your business can prosper. Diversity opens the door for evolution.

I always say change is inevitable so we need to do more than just accept it. We need to be proactive and look for those pivot points. This is how innovation happens. We see it every day with the next new invention, idea, and technology. It is the companies that actively seek out people who can add to the culture that adapt and evolve.

So I challenge you. The next time you hire an employee, look for the person who can bring something new to the table; a person who can fill a gap where characteristics are absent but necessary for launching you into a new phase of productivity and success. Like Pandora, we need to refocus on creating employee-driven experiences. This happens from a culture-add atmosphere, by inducing diversity and weaving inclusion into the very fabric of company culture.

Originally Published by Jennifer Cameron on Saturday, August 19, 2017 | Updated on Wednesday, April 3, 2024
, Diversity
, Inclusion
, Human Resources Today
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