The Hidden Consequences of Hiring for "Fit": Discrimination and Lack of Diversity

February 20, 2023

Hiring for “fit” may be a common practice, but have you ever stopped to consider the unintended consequences of this approach?

While it may seem like a logical way to ensure that new hires mesh well with the existing team, in reality, “fit” can often be a code word for discrimination and result in a lack of diversity in the workplace.

The Problem with Hiring for Fit

Consider, for example, a workplace with employees who all have shared interests in football and golf. Would a new candidate who values cooking with family on the weekends and goes to church every Sunday be a good “fit”? What demographic do you think might be excluded in the above scenario?

While employers want new hires that are able to work well with their colleagues and share similar values, “fit” more often than not—whether intentionally or unintentionally—results in bias, homogeneity and exclusion. When companies use fit as a way to screen out candidates who don’t conform to a certain mold, they risk missing out on talented individuals who could bring valuable perspectives and experiences to the team.

Hiring for “fit” can also lead to legal issues, particularly if it results in discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, or disability. Companies that are found to discriminate during the hiring process may face lawsuits and damage to their reputation, which can negatively impact their business.

Strategies for Overcoming the Hiring for “Fit” Mentality

Overcoming the hiring for “fit” mentality requires a conscious effort to value diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This can include revising job descriptions and interview questions to focus on skills and experiences rather than cultural fit, implementing blind resume screening and hiring panels, and providing unconscious bias training for hiring managers.

The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace

As someone who cares about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I believe it’s important for companies to be aware of the potential pitfalls of using “fit” as a hiring criterion. Instead, we should focus on evaluating candidates based on their skills, experience, and potential – without making assumptions based on their background or identity.

It’s also important to highlight the many benefits of hiring for diversity, such as increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. A diverse workforce can also better reflect the company’s customer base, which can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

By adopting a more inclusive approach to hiring, we can create more dynamic and innovative teams that reflect the diversity of our society. So let’s challenge the notion of “fit” and work towards a more equitable and welcoming workplace for all.

Justin W. Anisman

Anisman Law

Justin W. Anisman is an Employment Lawyer and principal of Anisman Law. Justin advises both companies and individuals in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal, human rights and discrimination.

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