The seven keys to installing a fit for purpose corporate culture

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published its seven point guide for how employers can build a strong corporate culture.

It focuses on action from the boardroom and senior leadership to create the right environment for a healthy culture to develop.

The FRC collaborated with five industry bodies and interviewed more than 250 chairmen, CEOs and leading industry experts to produce its seven point plan.

Why building a solid corporate culture should be a HR priority


These seven points for establishing a successful corporate culture are:

  • Recognise the value of culture: A healthy corporate culture is a valuable asset, a source of competitive advantage and vital to the creation and protection of long-term value. It is the board’s role to determine the purpose of the company and ensure that the company’s values, strategy and business model are aligned to it. Directors should not wait for a crisis before they focus on company culture.


  • Demonstrate leadership: Leaders, in particular the chief executive, must embody the desired culture, embedding this at all levels and in every aspect of the business. Boards have a responsibility to act where leaders do not deliver.


  • Be open and accountable: Openness and accountability matter at every level. Good governance means a focus on how this takes place throughout the company and those who act on its behalf. It should be demonstrated in the way the company conducts business and engages with and reports to stakeholders. This involves respecting a wide range of stakeholder interests.


  • Embed and integrate: The values of the company need to inform the behaviours which are expected of all employees and suppliers. Human resources, internal audit, ethics, compliance, and risk functions should be empowered and resourced to embed values and assess culture effectively. Their voice in the boardroom should be strengthened.


  • Assess, measure and engage: Indicators and measures used should be aligned to desired outcomes and material to the business. The board has a responsibility to understand behaviour throughout the company and to challenge where they find misalignment with values or need better information. Boards should devote sufficient resource to evaluating culture and consider how they report on it.


  • Align values and incentives: The performance management and reward system should support and encourage behaviours consistent with the company’s purpose, values, strategy and business model. The board is responsible for explaining this alignment clearly to shareholders, employees and other stakeholders.


  • Exercise stewardship: Effective stewardship should include engagement about culture and encourage better reporting. Investors should challenge themselves about the behaviours they are encouraging in companies and to reflect on their own culture.


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