Why Cultural Equity Is the Next Frontier in Business Performance

By Heli Heartland, Coaching Lead at &us

6 months ago I was fighting against a tide of exhaustion, boredom and the uncertainty of 2020, looking for new employment. I kept thinking there must be something extraordinary out there, if only I could find it. People-centric. Human. 

Empathetic. Compassionate. Ambitious. Brave. These are the qualities that made me fall in love with &us, and the experience of the company culture has made me firmly feel part of the wider team even though I have yet to meet any of them in person.

In fact, during the pandemic so far, new recruits have swelled the &us ranks by 50%, across all aspects of the business from Coaching to Operations to Strategy.  Other than everyone joining at a time of rapid growth which brings its own challenges, the ongoing pandemic means that it’s not just me – a good chunk of our people have never met any of their colleagues. 

All organisations are currently operating under pressure from the pandemic. What is it that enables some of them to successfully attract and onboard people and get them passionately committing to driving results and innovation? 

How do you get people to fall in love with your business?

A poll we ran on Linkedin, asking about company priorities for the year ahead, shows that focusing on culture and looking after people was the leading choice by a huge margin.

So, we’ve had a year enduring – gestures wildly at it all – ‘the situation’. Looking ahead, What’s your #1 innovation priority?

So you’re saying people are important. You’re acutely aware that the pandemic has further changed the expectations that people have of their current and future employers, and not just in terms of remote working and staying connected with their colleagues. Something else is in play. It’s cultural equity.

As opposed to brand equity which builds as reflection of how well you succeed in fulfilling your product or service promise to your customers, workplace ‘cultural equity’ gets created and built through what you do and how you behave to unite your employees inside the business. 

At &us we’ve seen that cultural equity leveraged in the past year to keep staff engaged, united and motivated. Our biggest learnings so far are around inclusivity and investment

• Having all people represented and engaged in the development of the organisational culture; 

• Creating a multitude of ways for participating in and contributing to the growth of the business;

 • Investing in senior talent to add experience and expertise to the team; 

• Safeguarding accessibility to opportunities and fairness of rewards.

How does our cultural equity help us deliver radical change for our clients? 

Cultural equity accelerates performance 

Culture has a direct impact on motivation, commitment, sense of belonging and sense of self-worth. It makes the difference between your people playing small or playing big. Cultural equity builds from creating the right conditions, processes, policies, opportunities and rewards for people to play bigger. 

This is why the evolution of employee experience is the next frontier of business success, and the measure of whether your business will thrive or die. When you serve your people right, they’ll serve you right back. 

We’ve been working with Novartis to help them deliver their vision to become an ‘inspired, curious and unbossed organisation’. These are big words, but the commitment and craft they’re putting in are extraordinary, and they are moving towards their vision at pace. In his recent post on LinkedIn Steven Baert, the Chief HR Officer of Novartis, tells how – as part of their Unboss journey – they have waved goodbye to numbers-based performance metrics and instead given employees more accountability for their work goals and impact. 

More and more large organisations are getting ambitious about changing their culture of work, and that’s why we as a business are so busy at the moment. We help our clients develop leaders, and solve complex business challenges by injecting inspiration, agility and empathy into their teams, starting from the ground up and making innovation inevitable. 

Putting your money where your mouth is – looking after your people – is one of the simplest but critical ways to future-proof your business no matter what adversities may yet come.