Curators of Culture

Our culture is the foundation of who we are and what it means to be part of the team. While many more established businesses focus on maximising returns, we have chosen to create a culture where our people are happy, supported in their growth and development, and are recognised for good work. It’s in this environment that our business can truly prosper, whilst also building a great employer brand and keeping our colleagues engaged. 

I sat down with Lewis Jones, Senior Communications Manager, to talk about all things culture. Here’s the inside scoop!

So, you’re a Lead People Culture Specialist. What does your role entail?

I often get confused looks when I tell people what my role is! I have the privilege of being a curator of culture here at The founding team created an amazing start-up culture while the business was still small. Now we are scaling (we reached 1,000 people at the end of last year!), it is really important to our leaders that we preserve and grow the culture along with the business. 

Culture should not be enforced, or be seen as ‘an HR thing’. It is the role of our Leadership team, to set the tone for our culture and cultural change as we scale. As a curator, I see my role as advising on cultural development and interpretation, ensuring that our employee voice is a key driver in decision-making.

On a broader scale, the role of our People Culture team is to help set the foundations for culture to enable it to scale, bringing long-term colleagues on the journey and giving new joiners the best start in learning about our culture and how they can contribute to it. Our small but mighty team is committed to driving initiatives that enhance engagement, recognition, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and corporate social responsibility. 

In your opinion, what is the key to developing culture for a scaling company?

That’s a hard question to narrow down! But I believe that, at a foundational level, communication is key. Communication enables us to build trust and strengthens relationships across the business. It also helps us to understand and align with company goals and decisions and adapt to frequent change that comes with working for a rapidly scaling company.

CKO Pulse, our continuous employee listening platform (powered by Peakon), lets everyone anonymously share their experience of life at through short monthly surveys. This helps us find out what we’re doing well and, more importantly, address opportunities to improve. This way, we can continue to cultivate a culture where everyone can bring their full selves to work and truly play a part in shaping our culture.

On a bi-monthly basis, we publish People News, an internal newsletter that highlights our global people-related activities, along with Business News, which shares important milestones, stories and events from across the business. We also use Slack to post regular updates and celebrations with our colleagues. 

Additionally, our monthly all-employee meeting (AEM) provides a platform to bring our global workforce together to align and unite against the company objectives. This is followed by presentations from colleagues from across the business who are involved in projects with a high impact on our team members and/or clients.

We’re an international company, how do we go about developing our culture globally?

Firstly, we are all connected by our three values: #aspire, #excel and #unite, and they are woven into the whole employee lifecycle, from interviews to offboarding. We are also in the process of defining our operating principles, a set of values-led guidelines for our behaviours and actions that will align everyone to our strategic direction.

Secondly, the best culture advocates are our own colleagues and we provide regular opportunities to gather feedback from our team members to ensure that we can make improvements globally. To support this, we have built a network of Culture Champions across all offices and they are responsible for getting their teams behind activities and initiatives in their local offices.

The past 12 months have seen a massive change in how we work. How has’s culture adapted to the new virtual environment? 

2020 was a challenging year for culture, requiring a rapid change to our roadmap and initiatives to support a fully remote team. This included extensive remote working guidance for teams and managers and a particular focus on supporting our people’s wellbeing.

We haven’t let remote working get in the way of spending time together. Our events calendar has offered everything from CKO Talks guest speaker sessions and Positivi-TEA happiness catch-ups, to our very own WonderWorld for our 2020 end of year party. We also use the Donut app, which generates randomized introductions, to make it easier for people to connect and build new relationships across our ever-growing teams.

How does create a culture of belonging?

Our workforce is made up of 120 single and combined nationalities, with every person bringing their own experience and cultural background. I believe this is one of the things that makes us unique and we like to share cross-cultural celebrations and events with the global team including Chinese New Year, the Indian Ocean Island Games, and Eid.

I believe it is inclusion that creates a true sense of belonging. Enabling our people to speak up about what is important to them and have their voices heard is a big part of that. In our monthly engagement survey, we ask our team members whether they believe that people from all backgrounds are treated fairly at Our eNPS score for this question is currently 61, just above the Technology Industry benchmark.

It is important to us that we maintain this high score and believe we can achieve this through enabling our people to launch and lead internal communities (to date we have launched Women, Pride, Asia, Parents, Black and Disability communities), minimising unconscious bias in our hiring through diversity recruitment partnerships, addressing microaggressions, reviewing our internal processes and policies, and pay parity. We are also a founding signatory of the Fintech for All Charter, demonstrating our commitment to a culture where inclusive behaviours are championed, harassment is not tolerated, and where everyone is accepting of diversity.

How do we recognise our people?

Whether or not we like to admit it, we all appreciate a bit of recognition to feel valued as part of a team. We encourage peer shout outs on a daily basis through our Slack #thank-you channel, but our ultimate form of recognition is our quarterly Hero Awards. Colleagues can nominate fellow team members who have gone the extra mile in demonstrating our values. Each quarter, our eight winners are announced in our All Employee Meetings and are able to pick from a variety of prizes from sky-diving to spa weekends.

Finally, our Unite Fund offers managers a quarterly budget to bring their team together to recognize and celebrate their achievements.

That’s all from our Culture Team for now, but watch this space for further updates coming throughout the rest of 2021!

Source: Beatrice Farrer LinkedIn

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