Promoting Healthy and Purposeful Cultures

In a recent speech, FCA’s Sheree Howard, Executive Director of Risk and Compliance Oversight discussed the importance of establishing healthy firm cultures that are built on a culture of “fearlessness, not fear”.

Whilst there have been significant pressures in recent years, Howard’s speech highlights that it is important not to let those pressures interfere with standards, especially regarding conduct and regulation. Heightened financial pressures can greatly influence individuals to take risks, a temptation which, if taken, can have severe long-term repercussions, and it is no wonder why corporate culture remains an ongoing priority for the FCA.

The way people act is strongly influenced by how they see those around them behaving. Allowing bad behaviours to continue instead of taking steps to address them can lead to others assuming that that is also “acceptable behaviour” and as a result, ends up overriding all the hard work taken into developing a healthy workplace culture.

Healthy workplace cultures typically share several key characteristics, such as inclusive environments where employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions, effective leadership and governance that motivates staff to deliver their work to the highest standard, and, perhaps most importantly, a meaningful purpose that guides the organisation's efforts.

A purpose is the key reason people come to work, which may vary depending on the individual. Financial reward will of course play a big part in it, but there are other potential reasons. For example, work can provide individuals with fulfilment and personal satisfaction. For others, they might be motivated by having a sense of structure in their daily routine. When a person feels fulfilled and motivated, they are more likely to feel engaged in the workplace. On a wider scale, firms should also have a purpose that resonates meaningfully with their employees, with incentives that are not purely financial.

Firms need to be clear about their own purpose and consider whether their culture is fit for that purpose. Firms need to be honest and open to self-reflection and criticism. If there are cultural problems within the organisation, what are they, why do they exist, and what should be happening instead? It is not about finding excuses for poor behaviours; it is about being open to positive change. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them and how they fit into the bigger picture, no matter what their position is within the organisational structure.

Within the work environment, diversity and inclusion are often closely interconnected with workplace culture. Ultimately, an organisation that lacks diversity, equity and inclusion is “at much greater risk” of groupthink, as well as weakened governance, decision-making, and risk management.

If you are a Development Zone user, you can find a range of courses on the topics discussed in the course catalogue, including our modules on diversity and inclusion. 

For those not currently using the system, you can find out more and request a free 14-day trial here:

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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