December 2, 2019

Employers Have a New Idea for Inclusive Recruitment: Hiring for Diversity of Thought

By Anne Fisher

Intent on creating a cohesive culture, companies have focused for the past few years on recruiting candidates based less on specific job skills (those can be taught) than on traits like shared values, similar backgrounds, and even personal chemistry with the hiring manager. An unintended consequence: Too much emphasis on cultural fit can lead to a workforce made up of people who all think more or less alike. Over time, that can smother innovation and stymie growth.

But wait, businesses have also been making enormous strides in hiring for diversityand inclusion (D&I). That should have led to diversity of thought, (aka cognitive diversity), right? After all, hiring for D&I brings in people of varying sexes, races, and ethnicities and, along with them, fresh perspectives, new ideas, and different approaches to solving problems. Or does it?

The short answer: Don’t count on it. “Demographic diversity is necessary but not sufficient for diversity of thought,” says Tom Schoenfelder, Ph.D., principal scientist at employment-assessment firm Caliper. In extensive research into the link between the two, he has found that “there is some correlation, but much less than most people assume, and certainly no automatic connection.”