To be honest, I don’t really know. What I do know is that our way of doing business is at one with our personal values. Making socio-ecologically conscious choices at home, but not at work? That’s just not right. So, if I may provide a personal definition, I believe a corporate culture is the practical translation of the values and social vision of the founders, supported by their employees. The latter is especially important, without which your culture will not be authentic.
One of our latest recruits put it this way: ‘What you say on your website about people and the planet really won me over. Just the kind of company I’d want to work for.’ You reap what you sow. If your company also profiles itself in a particular way in public, you will automatically be on the radar of people who share your ideas and vision. As a result, aligned values and corporate culture often go hand in hand.
Table tennis is not culture
Table tennis is a sport. No, seriously. You know what I mean. The kind of office where the table tennis table stands out when you come in, and shouts ‘we really focus on well-being here’. While this may be well-intentioned, well-being or happiness at work is more than that. You don’t create a culture with table tennis balls and bats alone.
Values: time for a quick rant
I don’t like the term ‘values’. It’s far too loaded and often downright compromised. To cite just one example, the words ‘values’ and ‘standards’ are mainly heard from people who write refugees off as dirty and illegal. However, let’s leave that aside for one moment. At Blue Lines, we believe in equal opportunities, in respect for every human being regardless of their background, belief, gender or orientation.
We also believe that, as far as possible, everyone should take responsibility for helping towards tackling the climate crisis. While some might call us ‘woke’, we don’t object to that at all, as ‘woke’ really means nothing more than standing up in the face of injustice and inequality. Who would be against that?
I’ve often been asked: ‘Stef, aren’t you afraid of losing clients by taking a position as a founder?’ The simple answer is no. What’s more, do we even want to work for companies that trample over obvious things like fair pay or respect for our planet? And don’t forget that our choices and positions also put us on the radar of other companies and organisations that focus on people and the planet. Those aligned values again!
Zebra: the herd is growing
By being who we are, and communicating about it, we are now working for a whole bunch of so-called zebra companies. Zebra companies are purpose-driven, attaching the necessary importance to both people and the planet alike. They always think in the long term, looking beyond quarterly profits. On average, zebra companies outperform companies that engage in short-term thinking and place profits above all else. The good news: there are more and more zebras these days. Check out www.re-story.be, they can tell you more about it.