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‘Fit’ is often asked when discussing culture as part of a potential new hire’s role description. Workplace culture, flexible working arrangements and employee benefits are the cultural fit topics most commonly asked.

Recently, and for the first time in a long time, a candidate shocked us come question time when they asked if they would be a good ‘fit’ with our client. Our shock came from the fact that the candidate asked us whether they would ‘fit’ with this employer, because they were gay.

The shocking part was not that they were gay – it was that in 2022, they still felt the need to ask this question in terms of whether they would be in a safe environment. We knew the answer was yes as our host client is an ally and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. We had no reservations that the candidate would thrive in their new role, but after ending the call, we felt the need to discuss the candidate’s question with the broader Diplomatik team -why today, does this question still need to be asked.  The whole team felt disappointed – in the industry and in society, but also proud – proud of the candidate for unapologetically and assertively asking, as well as for sharing their reasoning as to why the question was important for them.

In the candidate’s previous employment (which only ended in April 2022), they were targeted, alienated, and bullied by their manager for being gay.  The candidate clearly wanted reassurance that they would not be putting themself in another situation where this could occur.

Their query and concern stuck with us over the last month and raised more questions:

  • Why should someone who is extremely talented and capable, feel that they need to ask whether they would fit due to their sexual orientation?
  • Is this candidate the exception rather than the rule?
  • How can it be that after all the progress that’s been made over the last 20+ years, we still have people questioning their cultural fit?

When we spoke with our client, they were equally shocked but glad the candidate had asked. It’s a great reflection on them that we could reassure our candidate that they would be safe there. We are confident of this, not just because of what our client says, but because they evidently put those words into action as other LGBTQIA+ candidates have always felt welcome there.

Providing a safe work environment is critical for every candidate that walks through our door at Diplomatik. We encourage all employers to really think about safety, and not just about physical safety such as slips, trips and falls, but to think about workers’ overall health and wellbeing, and creating a workplace where everyone feels safe and welcome.

At Diplomatik we want to always ‘walk the talk’. We present openly to potential new employees regarding our belief in diversity and its values. As early as a pre-selection interview, we discuss how diversity is a cornerstone of our business, and how it is intrinsically linked to ‘Community’ – one of our six company values. We are working to build an inclusive environment that develops a work culture where individuals feel confident and comfortable to raise questions such as here-in, and which empowers anyone within our team to speak up for others, thereby reducing the pressure on the individual affected to have to do so themselves.

Our hope is that one day, it simply won’t need to be a question people feel the need to ask at all.


Image credit: Rio Tinto