Why Hiring for “Cultural Fit” Undermines Diversity


In the realm of recruitment and talent acquisition, the term “cultural fit” has become increasingly popular. However, while this concept might seem beneficial on the surface, it can, in some circumstances, contradict the core principles of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Instead, organizations should prioritize hiring based on shared core values, which can foster a more diverse, innovative, and productive workplace.

The Pitfalls of “Cultural Fit”

Hiring for cultural fit generally refers to selecting candidates who share similar beliefs, personality traits, and interests with the existing team. This can include shared attitudes towards work, common recreational interests, and similar communication styles. While the intention is to create a cohesive team, this approach often leads to homogeneity and can exclude individuals who might bring valuable new perspectives and skills to the organization. There are many reasons why this approach is problematic:

Reinforcement of Bias and Exclusion

  • Favoring candidates who are similar to current employees can reinforce existing biases and lead to the exclusion of those who don’t fit the existing mold. For example, an organization may unconsciously prefer candidates from the same socio-economic background or educational institutions, limiting diversity.

Lack of Diversity

  • A homogeneous workforce lacks the varied perspectives that come from different backgrounds and experiences, limiting creativity and innovation. Diverse teams can challenge the status quo and introduce new solutions to problems.

Missed Opportunities for Innovation

  • Diverse teams are more likely to come up with innovative solutions, as they bring different viewpoints and problem-solving approaches. For instance, a team with diverse cultural backgrounds might better understand and cater to a global customer base.

Legal and Ethical Concerns

  • Hiring practices that favor certain groups over others can lead to discrimination claims and damage the company’s reputation. Organizations risk legal repercussions if they cannot demonstrate fair and inclusive hiring practices.

Impact on Company Reputation

  • Companies known for lacking diversity may struggle to attract top talent and could face public backlash. This can be particularly damaging in industries where innovation and progressive values are highly valued.

Employee Dissatisfaction and Turnover

  • A lack of diversity can lead to a stagnant culture, where employees feel undervalued or unchallenged, increasing turnover rates. Diverse workplaces often report higher employee engagement and satisfaction.

Case Study: The Putting Green Activity

Let’s dive into a real-life example from my experience. Picture this: a company included a putting green activity as part of their interview process. While they thought this was a fun icebreaker, candidates who were good sports and enjoyed the activity were favored, leading to a team that was predominantly 25–40-year-old white males. Talk about a hole-in-one for bias! This not only limited diversity but also overlooked the potential of candidates who might not share the same recreational interests but could contribute significantly to the organization’s success.

The Value of Diversity

Research consistently shows that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. Similarly, those in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability (Hunt, Layton, & Prince, 2015).

Additionally, a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed that companies with above-average diversity in their management teams reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity (Lorenzo et al., 2018).

Diverse teams bring varied perspectives, which enhances creativity and problem-solving. They can better understand and cater to a diverse customer base, leading to improved customer satisfaction and market reach. Employees in diverse environments also often feel more valued and engaged, which can reduce turnover and enhance overall productivity.

Practical Strategies to Embrace Diversity

To move away from hiring based on cultural fit and towards a more inclusive approach, organizations can adopt the following strategies:

Define Core Values

  • Clearly articulate the values that are central to your organization. Ensure these values promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. For instance, if innovation is a core value, emphasize the need for diverse perspectives to drive creativity.

Inclusive Job Descriptions

  • Build job descriptions that emphasize your core values and avoid language that might deter diverse candidates. Use inclusive language and highlight the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Structured Interviews

  • Use structured interview questions that assess a candidate’s alignment with your values rather than their personal interests or background. Develop questions that evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving skills, adaptability, and collaboration.

Diverse Hiring Panels

  • Ensure your hiring panels are diverse to minimize unconscious biases and better evaluate candidates’ potential contributions. A diverse panel can provide a broader perspective on a candidate’s suitability for the role.

Continuous Training

  • Provide ongoing training for hiring managers on EDI principles and the benefits of a diverse workforce. This includes training on recognizing and mitigating unconscious biases.

Operationalizing Values in Hiring

Operationalizing values in the hiring process involves clearly defining how these values translate into specific behaviors and competencies that can be measured during interviews. For example, if collaboration is a core value, interview questions should be designed to assess a candidate’s past experiences and approaches to teamwork. Behavioral interview techniques, such as the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method, can be particularly effective in this regard. Additionally, incorporating assessments and scenarios that reflect real workplace challenges can help gauge a candidate’s alignment with organizational values.

While behavioural interviewing is a time-tested technique, we want to highlight the many benefits of using a structured behavioural-based interview approach to focus on measuring the key drivers of success for a position. With the Behavioural approach, you can confirm experience or skill levels that the applicant has demonstrated in the past. Ideally, you will use a three or a five-point rating scale, with a range of behaviours from ineffective to effective. This is a great way to measure the true fit of a candidate, as you are focusing on knowledge and skills that are relevant for the positions, opposed to assessing the candidate solely on superficial impressions or subjective opinions. By concentrating on specific past behaviors and outcomes, you ensure a more objective and fair evaluation process. This method not only helps in predicting future job performance more accurately but also mitigates biases.

Firing Based on Cultural Fit

While hiring for cultural fit has its issues, firing employees based on cultural fit can be even more problematic, especially when the employee is performing well in their role. When an organization dismisses someone because they don’t “fit” culturally, it risks perpetuating a cycle of homogeneity and exclusion. Moreover, this practice can lead to discrimination, particularly against those who might be neurodivergent or come from different backgrounds.

Organizations need to ask themselves: What does “culture” truly mean? Your workplace culture should foster and align with diversity, not serve as an excuse to exclude it. Firing an employee solely based on cultural fit can be a reflection of an organization’s resistance to change and unwillingness to embrace diverse perspectives.

Real-World Impacts of Inclusive Cultures

According to a Harvard Business Review article, companies with inclusive cultures are 2.3 times more likely to be high-performing, 3.8 times more likely to be better at making decisions, and 2.9 times more likely to be innovative (Bourke & Dillon, 2018). These statistics highlight the tangible benefits of fostering an inclusive culture.

Furthermore, Deloitte’s research indicates that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market and 3.5 times more likely to achieve superior financial performance (Bersin, 2015).


The term “cultural fit” and hiring and firing based on this is an outdated and exclusionary practice that undermines the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. By shifting the focus to shared values, organizations can create a more inclusive and dynamic workforce that drives innovation and business success. Embracing diversity isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that can propel organizations to new heights.


Bourke, J., & Dillon, B. (2018). The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review

Hunt, V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015). Why diversity matters. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company

Lorenzo, R., Voigt, N., Tsusaka, M., Krentz, M., & Abouzahr, K. (2018). How diverse leadership teams boost innovation. Boston Consulting Group. Retrieved from BCG

Bersin, J. (2015). Why diversity and inclusion will be a top priority for 2016. Deloitte Insights. Retrieved from Deloitte


About the Author

Jori West is a personable and dedicated professional with over 9 years of experience in her field. Her background includes working collaboratively with executive teams to lead and successfully implement a wide range of effective Human Resources programs. She has a proven track record of designing and executing training and development programs that have contributed significantly to organizational growth. Jori’s passion for strategic HR is evident in her commitment to developing and implementing impactful training initiatives that empower employees.

Enhancing Workplace Dynamics: Impact HR's Respect in the Workplace 3-Day Workshop

In an era where fostering a culture of respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion is paramount, Impact HR proudly presents its transformative 3-day workshop on Respect in the Workplace. With a deep understanding of the legislation and Human Rights guidelines and the importance of creating an inclusive work environment, this comprehensive program aims to raise awareness, provide leadership skills, and equip participants with the knowledge to combat discrimination, harassment, and promote a respectful workplace.

At Impact HR, we are committed to staying at the forefront of knowledge and training in order to provide the most up-to-date and effective strategies for creating respectful work environments. We constantly strive to explore emerging trends, innovative approaches, and exciting new tactics that promote respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. By staying informed about the latest developments, we ensure that our workshops deliver the most relevant and valuable information to our participants. Our dedication to continuous improvement drives us to discover new ways of doing things and to embrace the ever-evolving landscape of fostering respect in the workplace.

Day 1: The Employee Module - Building Awareness for Respect in the Workplace (7 hours)

Day 1 of the workshop focuses on building awareness and understanding of respect in the workplace. Participants explore the significance of respect in creating a positive workplace culture, learn about different forms of discrimination and their legal implications, identify and address unconscious biases, embrace an understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion, enhance communication skills for positive relationships, and gain practical knowledge of psychological safety and maintaining a respectful work environment.

Day 2: Respectful Leadership - Empowering Leaders for a Respectful Workplace (7 hours)

Day 2 of the workshop focuses on developing leaders as catalysts for fostering a respectful workplace culture. Participants explore the responsibilities of leaders in promoting respect, learn effective communication strategies for inclusive leadership, delve into team building and leveraging diversity, acquire conflict resolution skills for prompt resolution and understanding, and cultivate self-awareness to lead by example in promoting a culture of respect through consistent and fair practices.

Day 3: Respect in the Workplace and Anti-Harassment Policy Training (7 hours)

On the final day of the workshop, participants gain comprehensive knowledge on creating and maintaining a respectful work environment, with a focus on addressing harassment and implementing robust reporting and investigation procedures. They explore the definition and various forms of harassment, learn about the legal obligations and detrimental effects of harassment, and understand the importance of having comprehensive anti-harassment policies and procedures in place. Participants also gain practical knowledge on reporting concerns, conducting fair investigations, and promoting prevention through ongoing training and education to raise awareness, promote respectful behaviors, and create a safe and inclusive work environment.

Impact HR’s Respect in the Workplace 3-Day Workshop empowers both employees and leaders with the knowledge, skills, and resources to foster a culture of respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion. By addressing the importance of respectful leadership, anti-harassment policies, and effective reporting and investigation procedures, participants will be equipped to create a safe and inclusive work environment where every individual feels respected, valued, and empowered. This comprehensive workshop is an investment in building a stronger and more harmonious workforce, ultimately leading to increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and organizational success.

Participants of Impact HR’s Respect in the Workplace 3-Day Workshop may be eligible for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant, a training program where employers can apply on behalf of their present or future employees for eligible training costs. With funding provided by the Government of Canada through the Workforce Development Agreement, eligible employers can receive two-thirds of the training costs, up to $10,000 per trainee per fiscal year. The grant covers direct training costs such as tuition fees, textbooks, and required materials. To apply, employers can access the Canada-Alberta Job Grant Portal and submit the necessary application and training completion forms.

Welcome to Impact HR's 3-day Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Workshop

We are excited to invite you to the Impact HR 3-day Equity and Diversity Workshop, a revolutionary learning experience designed to empower you as an agent of change in fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment. Through this comprehensive course, you will gain valuable insights, tools, and strategies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (EDI) within your organization.

Day 1: What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and how can I as an employee be better informed in the workplace? (7 Hours)

Are you eager to foster a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment? Join us on Day 1 as we delve into the core concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion (EDI). Discover the power of embracing diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, and learn how these values can drive innovation and success within your organization.

During this engaging workshop, we will explore various aspects of EDI, including the importance of awareness and empathy in creating an inclusive workplace culture. You’ll gain valuable insights into identifying and challenging biases, both conscious and unconscious, and develop strategies to promote equal opportunities for all employees.

Day 2: Equity and Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership (7 Hours)

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping a company’s culture and promoting equity and diversity. On Day 2, we will focus on equipping leaders with the tools and knowledge needed to drive meaningful change. Through interactive sessions and case studies, we will explore the challenges and opportunities that arise in leadership roles when it comes to fostering inclusivity and promoting diversity.

Attendees will gain practical strategies for creating an inclusive leadership style, building diverse teams, and championing equity throughout the organization. Whether you’re an aspiring leader or an established one, this workshop will empower you to become an agent of change within your workplace and drive the transformation towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

Day 3: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Workplace Policy and Procedure Training (7 Hours)

Policies and procedures are the backbone of any organization’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. On the final day of our workshop, we will dive deep into the development and implementation of workplace policies that support and promote EDI. Through expert-led training, participants will learn how to align policies and procedures with EDI principles, ensuring fairness and equity in all areas of the organization.

We will explore best practices in policy creation, including recruitment and hiring practices, promotion and advancement opportunities, employee resource groups, and addressing workplace discrimination and harassment. This training will equip attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to create a more inclusive and welcoming work environment for all.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to enhance your understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and make a positive impact on your workplace. Join us for the Impact HR 3-day Equity Diversity and Inclusion Workshop and become a catalyst for change. Register today!

Training & Development


Over the years, we’ve developed many training modules that have helped the people of an organization succeed. We tailor our offerings to your exact needs and can focus on building the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that your organization requires. 


Our instructors engage your learners to ensure they get the most out of training. We offer a diverse mix of in-depth training, lunch ‘n learns, and seminars. Listed below is our course offerings.

You can also access our course catalogue by clicking here.












You can access our course catalogue by clicking here. The course catalogue outlines the course duration, fee per learner, minimum class sizes, course description, and learning outcomes for each course.

 We also work with a network of certified coaches and experts who can support with MBTI and DiSC Assessments.


You may be eligible to receive funding for our courses under the Canada-Alberta Job Grant Program, which may cover two-thirds of the cost to a maximum of $10,000 per employee per year.

See the link below to learn more about the Canada-Alberta Job Grant Program or contact us for more information.


Recruitment Services


We offer full cycle recruitment services to help you attract and retain talent that is the best “fit” for your business. Our services include:



As we are your outsourced HR department, we provide hiring services as if we were your internal recruiter, meaning we bill on an hourly basis. This means you are not paying an excessive fee for staff. 

Workplace Investigations

Workplace investigations can be extremely difficult and complex, and if not handled properly, lead to extremely negative consequences for an organization. Our firm takes the pressure off by following a methodical process in conducting workplace investigations, and will ensure it is backed up with credible documentation and recommendations.


We offer investigation services primarily in the following areas:

Not only have we investigated complaints against front line employees, but we have investigated incidents where senior managers and executives have been named as Respondents.


Our investigation process is very methodical, following a very specific investigation framework. This is to ensure the investigation is viewed as objective and credible. Once we have an understanding of the complaint, we will conduct interviews with relevant parties. After all interviews are complete, we summarize the data and provide analysis, findings, and recommendations in a formal independent investigation report. As a last step, we will schedule a debrief meeting to review the report, findings, and recommendations.


Investigations are different based on complexity and how many parties are involved. Each investigation requires time to review the complaint, prepare for meetings, conduct the interviews, prepare a report, and conduct a debrief meeting. Our investigation work is fee based at an hourly rate of $130 per hour.

Outplacement Services


Outplacement Services are intended to support both management and employees through the transition process of layoffs, restructuring, or terminations. For employees, they are intended to not only help navigate the job market but also transition to a new position and organization.


Employee Terminations

Terminating an employee, whether for cause, without cause, or during a workforce reduction can be extremely difficult. Terminations can present a large degree of risk to a business if not handled properly, whether it is legal and financial risk or physical risk during a termination meeting. We can help alleviate the stress and ensure employee terminations are done smoothly and respectfully. Our services for terminations are listed below:

employmee terminations

Policy and Employee Handbook

We can support your business with policies and procedures that will protect your business from legislative and reputation risk. Our consultants have many years of experience in developing policies, communicating to employees, and providing policy training.

Having workplace policies in place can benefit you in many ways. They outline rules and standard behaviours expected from employees, set guidelines for dealing with routine situations, promote fairness and consistency, and provide a mechanism for communicating to employees.

Listed below is a sample list of the policies we can support your business with:

performance management

Health & Safety

Are you struggling to keep up with changing OHS laws or not sure where to start? We offer a comprehensive set of services to help you navigate your requirements under OHS and implement solutions that will protect your employees and company stakeholders.


Succession Planning


Through many years of experience in leading succession planning programs, we offer a simple step-by-step process that will elevate the overall talent level of your company. We’ll help you figure out who your future leaders are and recommend development plans that will put them over the top.

Our process for identifying and assessing talent, and building development plans is straightforward and involves the following:

succession planning

Compensation & Benefits


We will help you design pay bands that are based on valid market research, fit your competitive position in the market, and ensure pay equity. 

We also have considerable experience in designing incentive plans. We can design a new plan aimed at driving behaviours that will elevate the performance of your organization. 


Our process for designing your benefits plan focuses on getting the most value out of the plan for your employees while managing the cost structure to a level that is sustainable for your business. We’ll work with you to determine the right mix of benefits offerings and coverage levels. We can also be an important liaison with your benefits consultants and carrier, ensuring your best interests are kept front and center.


Employee Engagement


We offer a few methods to help diagnose your engagement issues. Hiring a 3rd party can be advantageous as employees may feel safer providing feedback due to the independent relationship. We can support in the following ways:

We have many years of experience in organizing various initiatives to solicit employee feedback. From survey design to facilitating focus groups, we know how to dig deep into engagement issues and develop effective solutions to increase engagement.

Performance Management


Performance Management is a complex area in human resources and can be administered in a variety of ways. We have worked with several organizations in creating and administering complex performance management mechanisms, conducting 360-degree evaluations, and providing training and coaching for supervisors and management.

While performance management can be administered in many shapes and sizes, our focus is building a culture of accountability. This involves supporting you in establishing goals for your direct reports, gaining acceptance of those goals, objectively measuring performance, and providing timely and ongoing feedback.

Organizational Design

We analyze your business and advise you on the organizational design and structure that will allow you to meet your strategic business goals. Our goal is to ensure you have an efficient operation and that the right people are deployed in the right positions.


Proactive planning and forecasting can help you become more productive and efficient. We help you plan for the future by implementing robust forecasting techniques that properly anticipate required headcount and potential organizational changes. 

organizational design

Business Process Improvement

At Impact HR, we have several years of manufacturing experience to draw on to help you lead your lean initiatives. We’ve studied world leading lean manufacturing systems and we use a proven approach in helping you become more efficient.

We’ve led many lean initiatives over the years that have allowed various companies to thrive in cost competitive industries. We’ve also applied the same thinking to the field of human resources. Through process mapping and HR program design, we maximize the efficiency of the HR department and allow you to earn a higher return on your people practices.

business efficiency

Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

Our change management process allows you to be proactive, engage the right stakeholders, and enable the people of your organization to lead the change effort.

People instinctively don’t like change and can sometimes throw a wrench into your change effort. We have led many change initiatives over the years, many of which have resulted in improved business performance and increased engagement across the organization.

How can a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) help your business?

It can automate many processes within your HR function and relieve the burden of paper filing and manual data management for your HR team and management. Vacation, benefits, hiring, onboarding, and performance management are some areas of your HR function that can be streamlined and save your company in administrative and non-valued-added time.

Human Resource Info Systems

Strategic Planning

We help you gain a clear understanding of the strategic goals of your company and the strategy in place to achieve those goals. We will also help ensure your HR priorities are aligned with the long-term direction of your company.

Not only are we equipped to develop strategic HR initiatives, but we can also help you formulate your mission, vision, and values. We work with you to analyze your internal and external environments and translate that data first into strategic goals and then into people solutions that make sense for your unique business.

We use a thorough planning model to help ensure you consider all your options and craft a business plan that will optimize your business results and maximize the contributions of your people.

Performance Management

Performance Management is a complex area in human resources and can be administered in a variety of ways.

Compensation and Benefits

Offering competitive compensation and benefits programs can help you attract top tier candidates and avoid loss of top performers to the competition.

Human Resources Consulting Projects

We can support you business with a variety of HR projects that will help you build your human resources foundation. We have experience in planning and executing projects in the areas of performance management, employee engagement, compensation & benefits, succession planning, performance management, and health & safety

Health and Safety

Occupational Health and Safety is a dynamic and complex field. It’s important to ensure you are compliant with OHS laws and demonstrate your commitment to protect your employees and other stakeholders of the company.

Employee Engagement

Finding new ways to engage your employees can substantially increase productivity. Employees who are engaged have a greater desire to remain with the organization, advocate for the organization, and exert extra effort above & beyond the call of duty.

Succession Planning

Succession Planning allows you to proactively identify the skills you need to be competitive long-term, develop the bench strength of your organization, and plan for changes in leadership.

Policies, Handbooks, and Employee Relations

Navigating employee relations issues can be time consuming and complex. The employee-employer relationship is very dynamic and is impacted by several pieces of legislation, such as human rights law, employment standards, and Occupational Health & Safety. Employers must take precautions to ensure they do not expose the organization to risk that could result in hefty lawsuits and long-term damage to their reputation. We offer many solutions to help you manage your relationship with employees and minimize legal exposure from changing legislation.

Please click on the images below to find out more information on our policy and employee handbook, employee terminations, and outplacement services.

Policy and Employee Handbooks

We can support your business with policies and procedures that will protect your business from legislative and reputation risk

Employee Terminations

We can help alleviate the stress and ensure employee terminations are done smoothly and respectfully

Outplacement Services

When your organization is going through a transition process and is faced with layoffs or organizational restructuring, we provide outplacement services so management are prepared to deal with the aftermath of layoffs and employees don’t miss a beat in the workforce.

Strategic Human Resources Management

We offer a number of services that can support your business in achieving its strategic goals. Please click on the image beside to find out more information on our strategic planning, HRIS implementation, business efficiency improvements, or organizational planning/design services.

Strategic Planning

A business can become stagnant and fail to maximize the potential of its people if its HR and corporate strategy is not aligned.

Business Efficiency​

Process efficiency improvements can be a game changer, especially for a company in an industry where margins are tight. Adopting lean methodologies and a continuous improvement mindset can help your company with cost reductions and minimizing waste.

Human Resource Info Systems (HRIS)​

What drives change in a business? It can come from just about anywhere. Effectively dealing with change puts a company in a better position to compete long-term.

Organizational Design

Alignment of all your HR practices is critical in allowing your company to achieve its strategic goals. If a company does not properly deploy its resources, it may not be able to capitalize on opportunities that would allow it to grow and prosper.

Our aim is to deliver solutions that will protect your business from risk, improve employee relations and engagement, and maximize the contributions of your workforce.

We offer clients diverse services aimed at supporting them in building a foundation for their human resources function. Our home is Edmonton, AB, but we support businesses throughout Alberta and across Canada. Please see our service offerings below.

impactHR is your dedicated outsourcing solution for human resources. Think of us as your fractional HR department. Whether you need us on an ongoing basis, for a one-time consulting project, or just need an occasional resource to ask questions when you’re dealing with an employee issue, we help ensure you have a strong HR foundation that will support your business. We work with any type and size of business, from startups, to small and medium enterprise, to multinational corporations.