A Comment on Corporate Culture


I know these two companies. They have vastly different cultures.

The first company has deep respect for its employees and encourages them to be their authentic selves. They offer support and resources for LGBTQ+ employees and for employees from all races and ethnicities. They celebrate Pride. They offer flexible work options. You can see how they respect their employees in everything they do. This company keeps its customers top of mind: they are in business to help their customers.

The second company is in business to maximize sales, the way many companies are in a capitalist economy. It’s what they care about the most. That’s not the same as caring for your customer, or your employees, because if it’s all about sales you might end up selling an inferior product or not offering responsive post-sales support. You might end up treating your employees in toxic ways.

When the first company says “Always be growing” they don’t mean just financial growth. They mean personal and professional growth as well as business growth. The second company says, “Always be closing.” That means sales, sales, sales.

The other thing about the second company is they say they don’t want to wade into political waters. They claim to be apolitical because being distracted by political issues does not help them achieve their goals of increased sales. So, for example, they don’t want to host internal chat groups on their servers for transgender employees, the way the first company does. You’re welcome to be transgender at the second company, but that’s your business on your time and has nothing to do with the corporate culture. And yet, this second company’s annual sales meeting is held at a Trump resort, and this company’s CEO donates to such political bright lights as the Big Lie devotees Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green. But as the company’s leaders say: they’re apolitical.

A study by the MIT Sloan Management Review found that the corporate culture elements most important to employees are feeling respected, having supportive leaders, and having those leaders live the core values of the company.

Company culture is a complex system that can be an asset or a liability. It can attract or repel talent because culture has a big impact on employee happiness, job satisfaction, and overall performance levels. If you don’t buy into the company culture, you’re likely to feel isolated and out of place.

The Harvard Business Review has this to say about corporate culture:

“Culture is the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.”

Harvard Business Review

MIT Sloan Management Review. Harvard Business Review. I don’t know if there are two more respected business publications in the world. What they have to say makes me concerned about the culture at the second company and its effect on employee morale and performance. The second company could end up losing some very talented people who don’t feel supported or respected. As for the first company . . . they’re gone. They were bought by the second company. Stand by for a mini version of the culture wars.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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