A strong company culture is crucial for a successful business, and even though most leaders know it’s vital it can also feel elusive. What makes a company culture positive or toxic? How can leadership design a company culture and ensure its adoption? Is company culture even something that can be implemented or does it grow from the bottom up? Company culture can, and should be purposefully engineered to create a productive and encouraging environment that fosters growth and collaboration. To help struggling companies tailor a culture that serves their teams and their goals, a few top consulting firms have weighed in with their tips, process, and results.
A People-Focused Company Culture at DTCC
The essence of DTCC goes beyond what we do and why we do it. What defines us are our values – integrity, clients, inclusion, results and excellence. Our values reflect our fundamental beliefs and serve as our guiding principles, underpinning the decisions we make, but our success is attributable to much more than our technology and processes. We cannot deliver without our people and as such we run programs and initiatives designed to progress our people and ensure they feel valued for the contributions they make. By creating an engaged workforce, we truly believe we can deliver personal rewards and benefits.
Personal advancement leads to company growth.
Our award-winning HR team have been selected as a 2021 ATD (Association for Talent Development) Best Award winner, recognizing organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success as a result of employee talent. This is through delivering a Career Management Program which focuses on our employees’ core development, leadership development, functional development and performance management.
DTCC employees also develop their own career path through mobility opportunities and our Global Mentoring Circles Program which matches junior and senior employees for group mentoring. We also have sponsorship, learning and relationship building in our leadership development programs for women of all diversities, since this is a critical differentiator for women to advance in their careers. We are recognized for our commitment to helping women succeed at work and have won several awards, including three from Fairygodboss, which the employees themselves voted for.
Listen to feedback and evolve.
In addition to providing opportunities for professional development and growth we have our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) which work in partnership with senior leadership to address workforce policies and serve as drivers of positive change. Each group enhances our internal, and external, community involvement, as well as impacting the recruitment and retention of our employees. DTCC has eight ERGs and these also serve as a great way for the individuals involved to learn management and organizational skills, as well as to gain exposure to leadership and others in the business who they would not normally be exposed to.
A Values-Centric Culture at Keystone Strategy
We strive to identify, attract, and retain people who value purpose-driven work. We aim to actively anticipate each other’s needs and our clients’ needs, and work in a collaborative and humble fashion to advance our clients’ interests and develop our team.
Keystone’s core culture values revolve around the following:
- We succeed by delivering uncommon service to our clients.
- We are committed to talent development, mentorship, and growth.
- We invest in and celebrate diversity in our workforce.
- We hold each other accountable for collaboration.
- We value and reward thought leadership and innovation.
Of these values, particular internal emphasis is given to mentorship and diversity & inclusion.
When anyone starts at the firm, in addition to getting direction from their Project Lead, they are also paired with a Professional Development Lead (PDL). The role of the PDL is to act as a mentor from the start, ensuring a long-term focus on personal and professional development.
We believe diversity in background, upbringing, and thought creates superior ideas, and we know diversity creates a much more supportive and collaborative work environment. It’s one of the reasons why we’re able to attract and retain such talented people who also greatly value diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Putting in the work to build culture.
From the onset of our firm, we’ve discussed our values at every step. In each firm-wide update and offsite we host, these values are highlighted and discussed. They’re integrated into our performance management program so that individuals are measured against them. We reiterate our values to employees during Day 1 Orientation, and these values are always used as a filter through which our culture exists. From a training perspective, we often ask ourselves, or are asked the question, of how a particular training contributes to providing uncommon service or whether a particular vendor aligns with our mission of diversity.
Finally, we run an Engagement Survey in which employees are encouraged to share feedback on what is and isn’t working at Keystone Strategy. This creates a culture of transparency and continuous improvement, allowing us to really reflect as a firm on how and where we can provide additional support, shift a policy, etc. The feedback from this survey has proven invaluable, particularly in our D&I initiatives.
Proactive programming supports values.
We have a few culture initiatives, including a D&I Initiative, that involves programming to reinforce our values. We host outside speakers, including from our alumni network called KeystoneNext, we created a monthly book club, and we have partnered with nonprofit organizations.
Creating a Culture of Collaboration at Acquis Consulting Group
Acquis Consulting Group seeks to cultivate a positive work environment that encourages creativity, the sharing of ideas, and support. In order to clearly define the Acquis culture, we created values that drive Acquis’s decision-making and daily interactions.
The care of our people and culture is our highest priority. We nurture and learn from every team member by creating a leading company and breakthrough results for our clients.
We design our relationships to be genuine, not just to be great partners but also to enable growth that is both measurable and meaningful for our clients.
Think + Do
Our formula is simple – we get close to clients, learn their business, and develop precisely tailored, custom strategies that serve them best. We dedicate our time to being a consulting company that brings individuals with insight, passion, and intelligence to the lasting relationships we establish with our clients.
Intentionally crafted values
Acquis encourages our colleagues to get to know one another and take a break from their work by hosting a series of functions. Our dedicated culture team hosts annual events and celebrations where Acquis colleagues from other geographic locations meet in their home city or our headquarters in NYC, facilitates several virtual events to remain connected during COVID lockdowns and manages company-wide Slack channels based on various interests to stay connected.
A Company Culture that Extends Beyond the Office
Acquis extends its core values beyond the workplace and the work we do for our clients. Many of our consultants support causes that are important to them through volunteering, fundraising and raising awareness. In February 2021, Acquis CEO David Kaufman earned the St. George Award by American Cancer Society, an award given to outstanding volunteers.
Our entrepreneurial mindset extends deeply to our company culture. Consultants are encouraged and supported in developing their ideas, whether it be turning an interest and skillset in venture advisory into a sister company (Solidea Capital) or starting an incubator program in an industry that a consultant has expertise and interest (TAMS Travel Incubator).
Investing in culture
At Acquis, we are a family and our focus is on supporting each other. We’ve been through 9/11 and COVID, and we’ve never had to lay anyone off. We found a way to stay connected virtually every week during the pandemic with all-hands meetings and learned more about our colleagues through weekly employee features, heard from comedians to lighten the mood when the world around us was bleak, and celebrated wins – big and small – that we worked towards together, harder than ever.
During the pandemic, we celebrated our team through gifts. A plant to represent our growth. Aromatherapy to help us get through this difficult time in New York. We also committed to a future company trip to celebrate our success. Our people are diverse, caring, and intelligent and live to help those around them.
Culture is Action
What all of these companies have in common is the active commitment they have made to building the culture they wish to see. Defining values and enacting them is the difference between talking the talk, and walking the walk. A mix of top-down and bottom-up engagement ensures that company values and culture are authentic, relevant, and reflected in the team’s lived experience.