Author: Gabriella Anesio
Webamp spoke with Helene Aagaard, CEO and Partner at Diversity Factor, about the necessity of standing by company values, both inside and outside of the workplace.
Diversity Factor, founded in 2019, is a company dedicated to helping other companies thrive through achieving one key goal: diversity in the workplace. With diversity comes a ripple effect which positively impacts not only the individuals that a company is comprised of, but also the company culture, and, therefore, company performance.
Helene Aagaard and her team at Diversity Factor are on a mission to help companies around the world realise organisational excellence through diversity, and believe in a key ingredient of success: being as authentic as you possibly can. When asking Helene what she thought was absolutely essential for any company trying to convey a message or a product, she responded:
“You can have the best written values, but if your employees do not connect to these, it will not be reflected in the culture...Your people are your company and your values.”
With regard to values, Diversity Factor has four main pillars to adhere to: equality, transparency, reliability, and excellence. In line with this, then, Helene stands firmly by the principle that you need to “walk the talk” or company values are rendered meaningless and insincere.
By these standards, companies need to strive as much as possible to ensure that personal values match and align to company values. Whether a start-up or established company, big or small, local or international, authenticity stems from a company wherein the employees don’t leave their values at work at the end of the day — they also take them home and practice them just as they preach in the office from nine to five. Values aren’t something you can choose to just switch on and off (if they are authentic, that is).
“Companies - whether start-ups, scale-ups or big corporates - are built by people. They bring in their values, opinions and behaviors, when they go to work. It is not something we as people can leave at home before going to work. So in the end, it is the people who form the culture of a company.”
Of course, business at Diversity Factor doesn’t just depend on the values and attitudes of employees — clients, also, need to have an openness to the values espoused by Helene and her colleagues (or at least, that’s the goal).
When asking Helene about the difficulties of working with the kind of mission Diversity Factor has, she responded that it isn’t just one-off challenges they must deal with once in a blue moon, but rather:
“We do that [face challenges] every day as an advisor and consultants within this field. Diversity and inclusion is uncomfortable work. We need to look at the culture, structures and the individual behaviour and attitudes. And that can be really hard, which is also why we try to take the diversity and inclusion journey in small steps with our clients, and always start with data and facts.”
Evidently, having a pragmatic and patient approach is necessary when working with such a heavy, yet crucial, message such as diversity in the workplace. It is clear that motivation to learn, progress, and adapt — on both the side of the client as well as the company — are all required to yield any sort of results, regardless of the business or industry one works in. As Helene points out about her experience at Diversity Factor:
“...we’re not about “hauling businesses”, kicking and screaming into the world of diversity and inclusion. We are there for the ones that have had that penny-dropping moment that diversity and inclusion is not there to scare them and to beat them up. It’s there to liberate their organisation and future-proof it.”
If one takes this sentiment and generalises it to the broader context of the universe of entrepreneurship: you can never enforce your values onto someone, but if you’re authentic and you stand by the values you preach, the least you can hope for and expect is reciprocated sincerity.
This is an important lesson for any company, whether in the starting stages or five years down the road — not everyone will like what you do or what you stand for, but the best business comes from those that relate to your ethics and your core message(s).
For more on company culture see Nicolai Vittrup’s blog and check out Webamp for tips on SEO, PPC and everything web. If you have questions or comments for Nicolai Vittrup you can use the contact form on this website or connect with him on LinkedIn.