Culture; the ideas, customs and social behaviours of any particular group.
In business, the term culture is often used to reflect the values and behaviours of an organisation, the idea of “how we do things around here.” But what that means in practice can be hard to define.
Is the aspirant culture of an organisation truly reflected in the actions and behaviours of the individuals within it? How can we be sure that we live the culture we profess, or more accurately that our organisations profess on our behalf?
More recently, the term purpose has come to the fore. In 2020, McKinsey talked about early thinking on organisational purpose; a company’s core reason for being and its unique positive impact on society. Business with purpose was also a term adopted by the B Corp movement, working to reinvent capitalism through making business a force for good. McKinsey also recognised that founder-driven companies can find it easier to put purpose at their core, a benefit we share in at Yard.
A redefined purpose
Yard has just achieved accredited B Corp status, a proud moment for us all, and a demonstration of living our values. Part of this process required us to amend our purpose from being a for-profit organisation - with decisions taken to prioritise profitability - to considering our impact on wider stakeholders; staff, community, society, environment, weighing these equally with profits. This has essentially redefined our purpose and our priorities, formalising our culture.
For Yard, B Corp was a natural step, it aligned with the culture already in place; care for people, care for our community, care for the planet. We didn’t have to change very much; our effort was mainly put into formalising things that we have always said and done. So, things that our staff knew were customary, have become more formalised policy. In some ways, that formalisation can feel like it has reduced the cultural aspect, we don’t choose to do these things, they are the norm, is that a loss or is it progress?
It certainly gives more security and stability to those people who make up the organisation, which has always been part of Yard’s purpose. For myself, I love the idea of working for a compassionate organisation that chooses to do right by me and other stakeholders, but given the choice, I’d still opt for the safety of contractual commitments and policies, and the emotional security and confidence derived from that certainty.
Shaping a culture
So, what makes Yard culture? In a word, it is Yardies. We have a truly inclusive culture, where everyone in the organisation, whatever their role, is considered a Yardie. Our Yardie culture is staff-led, our Culture Committee is made up of staff volunteers, working on social, charitable, and health & wellbeing initiatives and all contributing their efforts to make Yard a better place to work.
Anyone can be nominated as Yardie of the Month, by any other employee, for anything they feel merits it, and the final choice is made by staff too. The process is collaborative from start to finish.
If purpose is what we do and culture is how we do it, then whatever we call it, we are all better off for a framework that we can stand behind proudly and support fully, to give meaningful value to our work.