The EEOC recently condoned a hiring manager’s selection of job candidates based upon “cultural fit,” despite the fact this concept is increasingly disfavored in the American business community.
According to a March 21, 2017 article at Forbes.com, The End of Cultural Fit, the concept of ‘cultural fit’ was once the bedrock of corporate recruiting but today is widely considered taboo because it is fraught with bias.
“In some organizations ‘culture fit’ has become a weaponized phrase that interviewers use as a blanket term to reject candidates that don’t match the hiring manager’s view of the ideal candidate; and as such, it has become the embodiment of unconscious bias. ” writes author Lars Schmidt.
Overwhelming research shows that hiring managers harbor implicit or subconscious bias, including irrational prejudice or harmful stereotypes.
“Most interviewers are more likely to hire people like themselves and discount those who are different. This type of thinking hinders diversity and leads to homogenous cultures,” writes Schmidt.
Memo to EEOC: Even Facebook prohibits the use of the term “cultural fit” in hiring because it invites bias.
The EEOC has declined to comment on its decision to uphold an administrative ruling that dismissed an age discrimination case where a hiring officer said he ignored objective qualifications and hired workers based on cultural fit.
The ruling by Carlton M. Hadden, director of the EEOC Office of Federal Operations, involved an allegation of age discrimination by a 60-year-old woman who was not selected for one of five vacancies for the position of attorney decision-writer at a new Social Security Administration office in Reno, NV in 2011.
The novice hiring officer testified that he completely ignored objective qualifications when he selected five applicants under the age of 40. After three or four applicants declined the job, the hiring officer selected a 42-year-old male applicant. The hiring officer initially said he rejected the 60-year-old female applicant because she lacked enthusiasm during a 20-minute telephone interview. He agreed she was more objectively qualified than most or all of the other applicants but said she did not fit within his perception of SSA “culture.”