“Hire for fit, train for skill” It’s a phrase used by human resources professionals in organizations large and small. But without defining “fit,” the sentiment can often end up being a barrier to workplace diversity and inclusion efforts.
At a recent VCIC program focused on “Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce,” the topic of fit was a major focus. While many participating human resources professionals stated that they used the phrase “hire for fit, train for skill” to enhance diversity, it became clear over the course of conversation that the phrase was not being interpreted as hoped. For many managers engaged in hiring, they saw the focus on “fit” as a way to determine who would get along with others. Often, that limited hires to those from a particular educational background, age range, race, class, gender, or other identifier. Whether intentional or not, the impact of “fit” was resulting in homogeneity in the workplace.
What’s a potential solution? Clarity and intention. Human resources professionals and hiring managers must work in tandem to understand what is meant by “hire for fit, train for skill.” They also must have clearly delineated expectations and responsibilities for diverse hiring. Only then can organizations increase their diversity and benefit from a workplace culture of inclusion.