I’ve been thinking about workplace diversity recently and about collegiality and exactly what that means. I like the distinction this blog post draws between workplace culture and workplace values.
Lauren Bacon writes:
One of the real challenges of diversifying your team is that – at the risk of stating the obvious – your workplace is going to feel different, because it will include more difference. And that’s not always a comfortable feeling.
I see small companies struggle with this all the time. For a small team, every new hire risks being disruptive, and if you branch out from your demographic norms, whatever those are (age-wise, ethnicity-wise, gender-wise, ability-wise, and so on), that can feel higher risk.
When we feel uncomfortable with a prospective new hire, it can be easy to fall back on “culture fit” as an excuse for sticking with same-same demographics. And I’m not talking here about overt bigotry – I’m talking about its subtler cousin, cognitive bias. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wondering whether someone who doesn’t fit the usual profile is going to fit in, be it because they’re an immigrant with an accent, significantly older or younger than the rest of the team, a woman of colour, seemingly oblivious to your sense of humour, or otherwise different from the other folks on your team.
The key distinction here is between culture and values. You don’t need people to fit your culture – but you do need them to reflect your values.
Read the rest of “Diversity Messes wit Your Culture and That’s a Good Thing” here.