We know that culture is the prism through which each of us sees our workplace. Through this lens, we look past the big questions, the corporate values, and executive titles to the smaller, tangible things: profit sharing, succession planning, even vacation policies and office layout. It is impossible to divorce a business from the fragments that make up the daily lives of its employees, its executives, and its board of directors. And really, why should we try?
The question this issue seeks to answer, then, is not, “What is company culture?” The question is, how do we build and sustain it? How does a company create an environment that fosters growth and drives business, that translates its values through hiring and budget meetings all the way down to the lunchroom and then back up again, to greater growth and vision for the bottom line, sure, but for the inherent value of the company itself?
It’s a tall order, and there’s no single solution. But in an attempt to find one, this issue’s special section brings you case studies from five companies that approach the notion of culture in five completely different ways. Among them, Healthplan Holdings makes sure its employees are as cared for as the medical patients they seek to serve; Benihana’s CEO uses his long history in the industry to guide culture; and Philadelphia Eagles’ HR lead makes sure her enthusiastic reports put their energy into the community as well as onto the field (p. 84).
But those examples are just a taste. We also bring you coverage of Saffron Road, the company helmed by Adnan Durrani, a serial entrepreneur with a passion for sustainable food (he also spoke to us about how to build a brand for the modern consumer); and 525 America, a husband-and-wife owned clothing company celebrating thirty years of strong vision. We chat with Aston Martin’s team about what it means to bring a more affordable option to American drivers, and we get a snapshot into the life of risk-taker Jeff Lee of Maven Wave, whose efforts with staffing—and a partnership with Google—have paid off.
Each of these companies offers just one facet of the prism that is company culture. What works for your pharmaceutical company may not work for my luxury car brand, but one thing is clear: how we do culture matters, and it matters to each of us. And when done well, it has the immense power to drive business forward.