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Cultural Fit: Identifying and Protecting Against Bias in Your Business

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tara McAlister who is a Business Performance Advisor (and a human resources whiz) with Insperity. Insperity is a full-service human resources (“HR”) company that helps business owners navigate core business operations, including, employee benefits, payroll, risk management, talent management, and many other HR administrative and compliance issues.

One of our primary missions is helping our clients strengthen their businesses at the core level, so working with companies, like Insperity, who share a similar mission is key to providing top level care.

Cultural Fit: Identifying and Protecting Against Bias in Your Business
Cultural Fit: Identifying and Protecting Against Bias in Your Business

To build a successful business, there is one crucial step: surround your business with the right people. Strong cultures align their mission and vision, and their team understands the why behind company strategies.

What is Cultural Fit?

We are all probably familiar with the term “implicit bias;” however, another concept that is becoming a prevalent topic of conversation is the “cultural fit.” Cultural fit is characterized as the idea that business owners want employees whose behaviors, beliefs, and values are aligned with theirs. Simply, it is hiring the right employee who believe in the mission and vision of a company and comprehend how their work will impact the success of the company.

Cultural fit is based on the premise that employing individuals who are similar in personality and share common interests will result in a cohesive work culture where the employees will work harder and stay longer. While this may seem logical, since it is understandable that people want to work around others that they share things in common with, Tara made a great point that cultural fit can become an issue when employees are being primarily screened based on these characteristics instead of their actual qualifications for the position.

For example, a more youthfully represented company may avoid recruiting and seriously considering an older individual for a position, even though that person may possess all of the necessary qualifications for the position. Tara noted that sometimes this is because the business owner does not want to disrupt the existing culture of the company; therefore, the owner may ultimately end up employing an underqualified individual just because they “click” with the owner or “fit” within the culture of the company.

When to Exercise Caution

An important distinction in all of this is that believing alike and looking alike are different. Perhaps the most concerning struggle with finding cultural fit from a legal viewpoint is that if the potential employee becomes aware that they are being screened on such a basis, it could leave the business owner vulnerable to a discrimination claim. Therefore, owners must be very conscientious of the questions they ask a candidate during the interviewing process and should steer clear of any questions that relate to the candidates age, race, sex, religion, finances, etc.

To help business owners get started in preparing appropriate interview questions, Tara gave me a few of the sample interview questions that she provides to her clients:

1. What lessons about leadership have you learned from past managers?

2. Tell me about a time you had to handle a conflict at work.

3. How will your manager know if you’re struggling or need help?

As the Insperity website states “People are at the core of every business;” therefore, it is crucial that businesses are built on a solid foundation of individuals who are carefully chosen not just for the attitude that they possess, but for the skills and knowledge they bring to the business. Contact Tara McAlister if you would like to learn more about how Insperity can work with your business.

Dye Culik PC is a business and franchise law firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our attorneys work with businesses to help with employee-related matters such as employee contracts, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, employee disputes, and more. Contact us to set up your consultation. We're here to help!


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