Internal Culture A Growing Part Of Companies’ External Brands
Internal culture is becoming an increasingly large part of brands’ external image. Earlier this month, WeWork, the $20 billion coworking company with 200,000 members, 6,000 employees and 200 locations around the world, announced that on environmental grounds, its staff could no longer expense meals containing meat or serve it at company events. And it’s not the only brand to make an external stand public, as consumers signal that they want to know the ethics of the companies they do business with.
Last year, consumer research firm TrendWatching reported, “Back in the day a business was a black box. For outsiders, it was pretty hard to see what was going on inside. The brand that was visible to the outside world was whatever you painted on the outside of the box. People came and looked at it. They either liked it or they didn’t. In 2017, a business is a glass box. Outsiders can easily see inside. They can see the people and the processes. They can see the values. They can even see what the people inside the box feel about what they’re doing.”
The company has expanded on that idea in its recent report, “The Future of Retail.” The report highlights how a company’s internal culture and its public-facing brand are becoming one and the same. In today’s transparent world, smart businesses build ethical internal cultures that emphasize employees’ well-being—be it their health, furthering their education, emphasizing their careers, supporting causes important to them, etc.—as they can be the most effective way for companies to signal to consumers who they are and what they believe in. TrendWatching’s report notes, “In 2018, consumers will seek out, engage with and recommend retail brands that build better internal cultures for their own people.”
“The Future of Retail” highlights several examples of companies in the retail sector working to overturn what it describes as a reputation for underpaid, overworked, high turnover workers—Bloomberg reports that the sector’s turnover is five percent per month. These include Taco Bell, which offers each of its employees $5,250 in tuition assistance each year and access to academic counselors; Walmart, which has raised its minimum wage to $11 and introduced parental leave benefits, a bonus program and adoption cost assistance; and Brazilian retailer Magazine Luiza, which has established a line to anonymously report domestic violence, and offers support services.
Read more about company culture and other trends in The Future of Retail here.