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How to focus on "Culture-Add" instead of "Culture-Fit"

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Gina Narushishi

Many companies feel the responsibility to identify and face any stigma that may exist in their business, whether or not the stigma is unconscious. Now is the time to focus on “culture add” rather than “culture fit” so that all employees can feel a sense of belonging and become their true self.

Many companies implement diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. However, simply aiming to hire more diverse staff does not change existing cultural dynamics within the organization or disrupt possible prejudices, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce said. Dr. Rebecca Baumgartner, Vice President of Human Resources, said.

At the Women of the Channel West Leadership Summit hosted by CRN’s parent, The Channel Company, in May, Baumgartner said:

A color woman, Baumgartner remembers the time during her career when she had to work hard to prove that she fits all the men’s teams. She “hidden” or downplayed some of her identity in an attempt to overcome the prejudices that her colleagues might have had about their ability to do their jobs.

“I stopped wearing light colors on my heels and stopped putting on makeup. I behaved like them — more dominant. Men felt more comfortable around me and I I slowed down my cadence and lowered my voice so that I could listen to it. I was “covering” it for a snug fit. I had a great idea, but I couldn’t express it. I didn’t have physiological safety, and that’s really important, “she said.

Baumgartner said organizations should focus on “culture add” rather than “culture fit.” In other words, employees should not feel that they need to “cover”.

Many companies feel responsible for identifying and addressing the prejudices that may exist in their business.

SADA Systems, a solution provider founded by Armenian immigrants, is constantly looking for new ways to promote a comprehensive, diverse and supportive environment for its employees, said Narine Galstian, CMO of SADA Systems. Stated.

As part of the recruitment process, SADA Systems regularly attends and partners with DEI-focused job fairs. Based in Los Angeles, the company uses machine learning technology to screen job description biases.

From there, Garstian said the DEI initiative needs to be put into practice. The next step is the company’s SADA University Program. This is an intensive and immersive 8-week training and mentorship program.

“We are especially looking for talented engineers to represent groups that have historically not been well represented in technology early in their careers,” she said.

According to Garstian, the last piece is culture. “We incorporate DEI into every aspect of our culture. We all have a say and, equally importantly, we all know how to listen comprehensively. I guarantee that, “she said.

At the weekly City Hall, SADA is regularly aware of a variety of monthly events. Solution provider city halls often contain coverage and debate on topics such as the Asian Pacific Islander American Digi-American Heritage Month and the Armenian genocide.

“It’s easy to select checkboxes, blog, and list DEI in job listings, but DEI is an integral practice of the company, not an assignment. The bottom line is that DEI is a great company. That’s the right way to build it, “says Galstian.

Dealing with hard-to-recognize bias

Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Security and Collaboration, Cisco Systems, based in San Jose, California, said:

While race- and gender-related workplaces still have “serious” prejudices, companies should also pay attention to prejudices that can be difficult to recognize. These include prejudices about location and language, as well as prejudices against different socio-economic levels, Patel said.

Patel said the major, lesser-recognized bias that many people and businesses have is about geography. “You usually don’t ask anyone if you’re on the phone.’What race are you?’But people always ask,’Where are you based?’ And based on that, should I hire you? And that seems like a very biased way of looking at it. ”

Patel said all companies should work over time to systematically eradicate well-known and lesser-known biases.

“No one should feel like they don’t have the same seat at the table,” he said. “Some of everyone’s work in this hybrid world is to make people feel involved and to create a participatory culture that gives them space to talk. I need to remind you. “

    Learn about Gina Narushishi

Gina Narushishi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets at Prior to joining CRN, she talked about TechTarget’s networking, unified communications, and cloud space. She can be contacted at