Corporate purpose and culture

How organizations do business matters as much as what they do. Culture and purpose shape business performance, reputation, and resilience. Yet culture is under increasing pressure from several competing, and sometimes conflicting, factors.  

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Monitoring and assessing the impact of culture change in the workplace is crucial. Consulting by A&O Shearman helps businesses create and sustain cultures that align with their strategic goals, meet regulatory expectations, and inspire their people.  

Many leaders recognize the need to improve their culture and conduct yet struggle to translate their vision into action. They face complex challenges, such as changing customer demands, evolving regulations, diverse stakeholders, and emerging risks. 

We have the knowledge and experience to help businesses design and implement a culture strategy that supports their business objectives, embeds ethical standards, and drives positive behaviors.  

We also help our clients measure and monitor their organization’s culture, identify gaps and risks, and provide practical recommendations for improvement. 

Our services include: 

  • Conduct risk analysis and reviews 
  • Corporate purpose, values, and culture strategy implementation and advice 
  • Culture and conduct framework guidance 
  • Culture health assessments 
  • Practical solutions to support culture change 
  • Culture ambassador programs 
  • Training, including culture and conduct training and DE&I training 
  • Culture and conduct KPIs, executive and employee performance reviews, and scorecards 

Representative matters

  • Assessing cultural health and establishing a culture framework.  Several conduct incidents took place at a global bank. The bank wanted to understand the culture of the organization and the drivers of employee behaviors. We undertook a cultural health assessment, which provided the client with valuable insights into the main cultural themes and their origins. Our work pinpointed differences between various working locations. Through our recommendations, the client was able to understand the issues that it needed to prioritize. We also helped develop an end-to-end culture strategy and framework, as well as a culture ambassador initiative. 
  • Delivering scenario-based culture training . We developed and delivered an inclusion and respect training program at the European headquarters of a global corporation. The program was designed to address the client’s goals and to enhance employee and managerial cultural understanding. The training covered diversity, inclusion, and respect, helping to create an environment for appropriate behaviors and speaking up in relation to harassment and discrimination. The training focused on key elements such as unconscious bias, discrimination, and psychological safety, as well as the formal and legal consequences of misconduct. It also aimed to create a more engaged, inclusive workplace where misconduct is not tolerated. Based on the success of this initial project, we are now rolling out this program for the client globally. 
  • Undertaking a culture review. We conducted a culture review of the UK subsidiary of a European bank. Our review included a desktop review of materials relating to the bank’s culture framework and initiatives. We also ran a series of 30 in-person focus groups with more than 230 employees from across the business and held one-on-one meetings with senior leadership. Our findings highlighted examples of different cultural nuances by seniority level, geography, and business unit. We also provided practical remediation advice to enhance the bank’s ethics and compliance culture. Developing a culture strategy We helped a tier 1 bank enhance its culture and conduct engagement, as part of a wider risk culture and controls enhancement program. This involved a review that spanned culture, strategy, governance, people, policies, and controls. We subsequently ran employee focus groups across various grades and locations to gather views on the bank’s culture and conversations with senior leadership to assess how they were advancing and embedding culture. We distilled our analysis into a report that outlined strengths, improvement opportunities, and our recommendations which were aligned with the client’s existing action plan. 
  • Creating a culture dashboard. We created a dashboard to display and analyze various aspects of a large insurance company’s organizational culture. This included an assessment of values, behaviors, engagement, and the effectiveness of feedback channels and processes. We collaborated with the client to define the scope and goals of the dashboard. We identified and aligned the relevant data sources and stakeholders, provided guidance on how to maintain and update the dashboard, and ensured it could be used to facilitate meaningful and action-oriented culture conversations. Our work enabled the client to monitor and improve its culture performance and alignment across the organization. 

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