The importance of the right corporate culture

Do you think it’s worth imposing the agony of culture change on your company?

Just as I have shifted our focus to Inclusion, so, it appears, have those organisations that view themselves as competitive leaders.

In the world of sport, that leader of the pack seems to be British Cycling where embedding the right kind of culture occupies top priority on the agenda.

Case in point: the brand new appointment by British Cycling of its new People Director to one of the six Board positions.  This appointment is one of the newly-revealed 39-point action plan to change the direction of British Cycling, with more than half of the actions aiming to develop a more inclusive culture.  Actions such as executive coaching for the leadership team, diversity training programmes, leadership development training and ‘soft’ skills training all feature in this elaborate plan to introduce change to the organisation.  All painful but necessary.

In the past, I also spoke of tech companies embracing culture change to ensure their employees remain creative, innovative, motivated and competitive.  Leading that pack of this initiative is Google, with its dedicated full time manager whose job it is to ensure the happiness of its employees.

Companies across the City are waking up to the reality that diversity cannot be fully harnessed without a shift in culture.  They are starting to realise that, in order to remain competitive and to achieve whatever diversity-related objectives they set for themselves, it is no longer enough to pay lip service to Diversity and isolate it into a pocket that HR or a dedicated manager looks after.  Getting the most from people requires a culture that enables employees to be themselves, to share their diverse experiences and backgrounds, and to feel comfortable being vulnerable around colleagues.  And that will take some culture shift!

This kind of change requires commitment from each leader in the organisation.  Commitment not just to dedicate budget to the process, but also time and willingness to change one’s own behaviours and perceptions.  The most painful aspect of this change is having to become more self-aware and to admit that what we know as true is often based on erroneous assumptions.

Building awareness of the fact that we hold many untrue assumptions about ourselves and others is the first step to shifting behaviour, but by far not the only one.  Companies that are serious about culture change are going to discover that this might be the most difficult task they have ever embarked on.  But, if done for the right reasons and with the right level of commitment, the results can be earth shattering, including achieving goals that have eluded leaders for years.

So, the question is, are you ready for the challenge?

If you would like to hear more about inclusion in the world of sport, join us at our inclusion conference on 21 June Ordinary People, Extraordinary Contributions, to hear from a former Team GB Captain Claire Bennett, Athlete Manager at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.