Cultural Fit: FIFA, North Korea, the Kardashians, the Nixon White House…and Your Nonprofit Arts Organization?

candle-in-the-dark

I just read an op-ed piece in The New York Times about the over-utilization of “cultural fit” as a criterion for hiring.  “One recent survey found that more than 80 percent of employers worldwide named cultural fit as a top hiring priority.”

To an extent, cultural fit is interesting, but a “top hiring priority?”  In the broadest sense, someone with an affinity for and experience in the nonprofit arts industry would seem to possess it for a nonprofit arts organization, as opposed to someone from Walmart.

But when challenges face the organization, or if an organization is seeking to “be taken to the next level,” cultural fit is the last thing you want in a key hire.  Adding wax to a candle just makes a bigger candle. It doesn’t light up the night until you add the fire.

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