Diversity. Immigration. Cultural fit. These are hot topics right now. Between the politics of the moment (think the recent immigration battles in the U.S. and Brexit) and divisions in society becoming more acute (at least if you read the popular media), how do we as business leaders continue to promote diversity? Should we?

If you’ve been following the news lately, you might realise there are seismic shifts going on in the movement of people around the world. There’s also a lot of noise about the value or risk of these movements. Whatever your beliefs on these issues, the world is changing. Right now the debates may be on keeping borders, sovereignty and national identity but what people may not realise is that a shift has already occurred.

The internet has created a borderless society. There is no going back.

In fact, a Pew Research Center survey finds that people generally place a relatively low premium on a person’s birthplace. Only 13 per cent of Australians, 21 per cent of Canadians, 32 per cent of Americans and a median of 33 per centof Europeans believe that it is very important for a person to be born in their country to be considered a true national. Cultural fit. It’s less important within borders now than ever. So why do we keep looking for it in the workplace?

Also Read: Startup culture: Going beyond fancy offices

Cultural fit — is it still important in the work environment?

Hiring managers and CEO’s too often look for a “cultural fit” over and above skills when they hire. Sure we all want to be able to have a beer together at the end of the day, and by hiring that “cultural fit”, we think we can – with less effort. But is that really true?

Or does cultural fit really mean we’re hiring based on whether that person is most like us? It certainly seems so. Fortune magazine recently titled an article, How ‘Culture Fit’ Can Be a Shield for Hiring Discrimination. I think most of us can relate. Perfectly qualified but we didn’t get the job because we didn’t go to the “right” school or maybe even have the “right” hobbies. Class, race, religion, gender – it’s all been used against us on a hiring decision at one time or another. Human nature? Yes. But used to find the best fit for a company? Not always.

McKinsey studies show that companies in the top quartile for gender, racial and ethnic diversity typically have above average financial returns. Likewise, companies in the bottom quartile in diversity are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. Diversity is also most likely to make companies more competitive, shifting market share toward more diverse companies over time.

If you want to beat other companies diversify your workforce

Most companies bring diversity into their company by the most obvious means – moving the needle by hiring more women or looking for candidates who represent a minority race from the local community. But how often do they look completely outside their country for cultural diversity?

Also Read: Most Indians still see young women as unfit for leadership positions – BigStylist CEO Richa Singh

For the most forward thinking and successful companies in the world, hiring internationally is the norm. When hiring from within your city or country, you will most likely find like-minded thinking, even while improving diversity. I’d like to challenge you to think beyond borders.

New research finds that socially different group members do more than simply introduce new viewpoints or approaches. In the study, diverse groups outperformed more homogeneous groups not because of an influx of new ideas, but because diversity triggered more careful information processing that is absent in homogeneous groups. The mere presence of diversity in a group creates awkwardness, and the need to diffuse this tension leads to better group problem solving.

Simply put – adding a completely new or divergent idea to a homogenous group will result in a shake up that brings better outcomes.

So how should you hire?

Building a globally-competitive business in a networked age means you’re competing for the best people in the world.

Think beyond borders. Break down barriers on all fronts. Adding the best person for your team might just mean getting out of your usual comfort zone. Right now, in order to build globally competitive teams, we need to bridge borders across the world.

Also Read: 3 ways effective employee engagement can cut attrition and boost productivity

Talent is mobile. Don’t limit your hiring to whoever happens to be available in your neighbourhood. Expand your hiring campaigns globally and inspire the best people from around the world to join your team.

After all, variety is the spice of life.


This article originally appeared on the Jobbatical Hiring Blog.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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