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Lessons from Googlers: The building blocks of an effective culture

Crafting culture takes time; it forms the bedrock of an organization's operations, resonating across all levels. While Google shines as an epitome of innovative culture—a goal many aspire to achieve—its cultivation isn't a breeze. Yet, initiating the journey isn't as daunting as it seems, and I'm here to share insights from Googlers themselves!

Recently, I've embarked on a mission, connecting with leading organizations to delve deeper into their organizational cultures. Beyond surface intentions, I sought to uncover the essence of successful organizations. Today, I'm excited to share three key insights from Google. While not ground-breaking, these insights offer significant merit and prompt us to rethink the foundational elements of success within our own organizations. Here are three insights worth considering:

Insight no. 1: Doing ERGs the right way

Every Googler I met was involved with an Employee Resource Group (ERG), but what sets them apart? A new acquaintance shared the following criteria to be critical to a successful ERG: safety + genuine support + funding

  1. Allow for space with a foundation of safety, where employees can freely exchange knowledge, pose questions, challenge norms, and collaborate

  2. A healthy budget to enable and support the interests of this group, without micromanagement of spending decisions.

  3. Senior members exhibit deep trust, maintaining minimal involvement in ERG affairs. This hands-off approach fosters a sense of autonomy, allowing communities to flourish around topics of importance.

Reflect on your organization's ERGs—are they effectively supporting the communities they serve? While common ERGs like Newcomers and Women in Business are valuable, consider expanding to include diverse perspectives. Take inspiration from Google, which boasts ERGs like 'Mixed', accommodating those who transcend traditional categories. Perhaps explore novel ERG concepts like 'Foreign Born', recognizing the diverse backgrounds of employees.

Insight no. 2: Giving employees a platform

In many traditionally run organizations, the spotlight often falls solely on the c-suite, leaving little room for other voices to be heard. This practice inadvertently suggests that only those with decades of experience have insights worth sharing. However, as I've discussed in previous conversations, the richness of learning from individuals across all career stages cannot be overstated.

Think back to moments when a child's innocent inquiry stopped you in your tracks, prompting profound reflection on your own beliefs and behaviors. Similarly, within our organizations, there exists a treasure trove of perspectives waiting to be tapped. Yet, all too often, these voices go unheard, and their valuable insights remain untapped.

While I've discussed initiatives such as including interns in board meetings as commendable steps toward embracing diverse viewpoints, there is still much more that can be done. It's time to extend speaking opportunities to early and mid-career talent, allowing them to share their unique experiences and perspectives. By doing so, we not only enrich our organizational dialogue but also inspire others and foster a culture of inclusivity and belonging.

I applaud Google for championing this ethos, providing a platform for all voices to be heard and valued, regardless of hierarchical rank. It's through this commitment to authenticity and growth at all levels that organizations truly thrive.

Insight no. 3: Elevating women elevates the whole organization

While not a groundbreaking revelation, the transformative power of prioritizing women's elevation often eludes many organizations. Here, Google stands as a beacon of distinction. Through strategic investments in programs like Women's Leadership @ Google, the tech giant has unleashed a tidal wave of change. This initiative isn't just about empowering women; it's about reshaping the entire organizational landscape, fostering diversity, challenging stereotypes, and nurturing a culture of collaboration and mentorship. It's a holistic approach aimed at equipping every individual with the skills, mindset, and capabilities to soar, transcending traditional gender roles that have long dominated corporate culture.

When women uplift each other in the workplace, they don't just break barriers; they shatter ceilings, paving the way for better decision-making, heightened representation, and economic empowerment.. Therefore, prioritizing women's support isn't just a moral imperative; it's a strategic imperative—one that fosters a more equitable, inclusive, and thriving workplace environment for all.

Hats off to Google for leading the charge in promoting equity and empowerment on multiple fronts! 💙

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