Culture Is Queen | NAWBO

Here at NAWBO, culture is vital. Everything we do, from our mission and values, to our goals and behaviors, is about making sure that all women business owners feel like they belong.

It’s vital in our businesses, too. Our policies, procedures, ethics, attitudes, management style, hiring choices and more combine to create business personalities. And these personalities impact our success, because when our team members are happy, they are more likely to keep our customers happy.

Our corporate partners at Southwest Airlines understand this important connection between culture and success. In fact, their culture is often imitated by other organizations, but as they say, “never duplicated.”

There are three core elements to the Southwest Airlines culture—appreciation, recognition and celebration. They have a Culture Services Department that champions a culture through which every employee knows he or she matters, local and company-wide culture committees that promote a fun and healthy work environment and more. Look for a piece in this issue of NAWBO ONE featuring a panel of Southwest’s women leaders talking culture.

As women entrepreneurs with businesses of all shapes and sizes, we can be inspired by this NAWBO corporate partner, and all of our excellent partners, as we look to create our own winning cultures. Here are a few expert tips to consider as well:

Build shared values, and live those values

Our core values describe how team members should treat one another and how they can expect to be treated. These should be living, dynamic ideals that team members believe in. And sometimes, they should be refreshed—especially as our companies grow.

Make sure all team members feel they belong

Building a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do; it can give a competitive advantage. Research shows that companies with more diverse teams are more innovative, make better decisions and are more effective at achieving financial goals. 

Ground your culture in mutual trust

Team members have to feel safe to be themselves, take smart risks, fail and ultimately, succeed. Part of building culture is creating a space where team members, regardless of title, team or tenure, feel encouraged to share ideas and thoughts. 

Foster trust through personal ownership

There are a variety of ways to foster trust, but one of the best ways is to distribute responsibility. When everyone on a team is empowered and trusted to reach their full potential, each person becomes capable of so much more.

Connect daily work to company goals

Without a clear understanding of what they need to do—and why it matters—team members can feel like they’re spinning their wheels. Make sure they have a clear, tangible way to connect their daily work to company goals.

Build great hiring and onboarding processes

Culture starts the moment someone interacts with our companies. Make sure team members feel welcome, clearly understand hiring and onboarding processes and have access to the information they need to succeed.

As we move forward and continue to build our NAWBO culture where all women business owners feel like they belong, I hope you feel inspired to do the same for your team members and customers.

—Karen Bennetts
  2022-2023 NAWBO National Board Chair

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