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The basic elements of organizational culture for sustainability


Gender equality, value-based management and humanization of work: a must if you call yourself sustainable


The survey results show that gender equality, value-based management and humanization of work are accessible to most organizations. The challenges, and respectively the strategies and tools for implementation, can vary depending on the size, location, industry and type of organization. There are however some tips that every manager can use in their management practices and leadership style to influence a shift towards a more sustainable organizational culture.




Gender equality: 78% of respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.


It is notable that people with international experience as well as people with experience in all sectors (public, private, non for profit) support the idea that all organizations can reinforce gender equality. However, only 67% of respondents with less than 10 years of working experience believe it can be implemented anywhere. This might be explained by the fact that younger participants are more aware of the structural limitations than one can face when trying to encourage gender equality. What can you do as a manager/leader to strengthen gender equality within your team?


Create awareness, counter the biais and lead by example

Being aware of the structural bias and starting a dialogue around the issue is step number one towards a more equal organizational culture. Acknowledging that men and women are treated differently can help identify and recognize the situations where women are discriminated against and as a consequence gives a chance to act accordingly. As a manager, you can give voice to a woman being interrupted in a team meeting, observe the share of women holding a management or lead position vs. the share of women within the whole team, or even encourage “feminine” traits as a positive behaviour within the team.


Note: Gender is not the only element related to diversity in the workplace. Discrimination of race, sexual orientation, political affiliation or religion also generate inequality and should be considered with the same degree of relevance and importance. Similarly, promoting overall diversity within teams helps enhance creativity and innovation, and thus makes the team more competitive.


Value-based management: 78% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.


63% of respondents with less than 10 years of working experience believe that value-based management (VBM) can be implemented anywhere. Providing each decision maker with the information and the incentive to make a decision that will add value to the organization can only be achieved if deeply rooted in the organizational culture. With results measured via the definition and tracking of the relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), VBM can be seen as a corporate philosophy or a leadership mindset which affects the way decisions are made and decision-makers rewarded for contributing to the goals of the organization. VBM is usually focused on shareholders’ value and economic sustainability. However, by setting environmental and social impact goals, VBM becomes relevant in the context of sustainable business. Though VBM requires to be integrated within all aspects of the management style in order to result to maximized performance, its implementation can be progressive and some steps can already be implemented in the short run.


Set SMART goals, plan actions towards the goals, measure performance

In all areas of business and at any level of the organization, while managing your team you have the possibility to integrate VBM into your leadership style. By learning how to set SMART goals, relevant to the organization but also incentivizing the team members, you can set measurable targets to your team’s performance and motivate individual commitment to the organization’s purpose. If you are working on your HR practices, it can be relevant to look into individual development plans to identify how your employees can efficiently contribute to your organization’s goals, as well as how the organization can contribute to your employees'individual goals.


Humanization of work: 89% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.


Overall, participants strongly believe in humanization of work, regardless of their profile. Caring about employees’ well-being is commonly considered as accessible to all organizations. Indeed, promoting and supporting employees’ well-being within the organization improves productivity and performance to a level that quickly offsets the short-term costs of your HR investments.


Observe the symptoms, motivate the team and prevent the risks

If you manage people, it is important for you to be observant of any alarming signs from your team. Mental or physical, work related or not, any unhealthy symptom should be taken seriously. As a manager, and particularly if there is no HR department or representative in your company, being present and available is critical to encourage an open dialogue if there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Work-life balance, physical activity, job control and stress management are different areas managers can look into to support their employees’ wellbeing.


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