If corporate culture is used as the justification for hiring job candidates who do not meet job requirements and rejecting candidates that do, then it is important to understand what corporate culture means. Is corporate culture reality or a myth? Is corporate culture primarily (not always) an excuse for a manager to hire candidates he/she likes the look of, rather than those who best meet job requirements?
Corporate culture may be reality in some large organizations, and affect the ethical way the company operates. It may include some commitments to its employees and to the community, but is unlikely to set hiring standards (personal characteristics) that candidates for most jobs have to meet. If corporate culture is well understood and impacts directly on day-to-day operations, then the driving force of the culture will be the organization. The culture will embrace all new employees and regardless of their backgrounds, all employees will be assimilated into the culture and become part of it – each in his or her own way. Most employees accept and understand that they must adapt to the way the organization operates – as employees paid to perform work in a prescribed manner.
It is ludicrous to imagine that a corporate culture would be so fragile or at risk that hiring a few people who are withdrawn or awkward in some ways, but otherwise great workers, would threaten the organization. If the culture is reality and reinforced by competent management, they are likely to adapt and flourish. Culture and values leadership is driven primarily by the organization, not by the regular employees, particularly new hires. The diversity of employees, however, can strengthen and enrich the corporate culture.
Small companies, particularly owner operated, may have a stronger corporate culture although they may not give it that name. A small organization with a high level of functional overlap and interaction has to operate as a cohesive team and “fit”, particularly flexibility, has to be understood and explored with candidates. Possibly that is the purest form of corporate culture, defined by the way the business actually operates.
Probably most discriminatory hiring is by local management who may claim that hiring the type of people they like (e.g. with the right attitude) is the same as hiring based on corporate culture. At the same time, an involved recruiter (external or internal) may interpret the manager’s preferences as corporate culture. That, however, would not make sense, unless all the managers in the organization express the same preferences. It is difficult to reconcile conflicting “corporate culture” in the same or different functional areas as legitimate components of the one true corporate culture.
Corporate culture must be company-wide and reflect the interests of the total organization in an ethically and socially responsible way. An employee who fits well in one area should fit well (similar function) in any other area. If hiring is significantly influenced by local biases, including the biases of individual managers, then managers may indeed strive to hire people they like and probably similar to the group already in place. Does that make sense? Is that perpetuating sameness and probably limiting flexibility of the function and readiness to adapt to change?
Should competent managers be able to build teams including individuals with many different styles and backgrounds and by harnessing that diversity achieve great things? Corporate culture is not simply what the organization claims or publishes as its culture. Corporate culture has to describe the way the company actually operates, not simply PR make believe.
Thank you very much for your interest. What is true corporate culture? To what extent can corporate culture affect hiring practices? I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.