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ACCA has developed a culture-governance tool to show the interrelation between governance and corporate culture. The tool can be used to assess culture and initiate positive change in a systematic manner.

How can corporate culture be changed?

Culture is made up of what we can see as well as what we can’t. It’s fundamentally important to recognise that organisations can trigger change. The board and senior leadership have governance responsibilities and are best placed to drive corporate culture.

Leaders have the power to impact the corporate culture in their organisation by following four routes:

  1. tone at the top
  2. mission
  3. performance management
  4. communication

An illustration of the elements that make up a corporate culture represented as a circle of three layers – an inner, middle and outer layer; content description as follows. Outer circle labelled organisational processes and procedures. Middle circle subdivided into five segments: organisational values, risk-taking and transparency, accountability and trust, sustainability, interconnections. Inner circle description: Four tenets of responsibility, tone at the top, mission, performance management, communication.

How can I use this tool?

Take each governance lens in the tool and go through example processes and procedures, thinking how they are in your own organisation. By mapping your organisation’s culture in this way you can start to examine their consistencies (or alignment). Do they match with your organisation’s goals? Where are the inconsistencies? What changes do you need to bring them into alignment? Even small changes at the initial stage can be the catalyst towards building a culture that supports you in achieving the organisation’s goals, while bringing everyone with you.

When is the right time to use the tool?

Think about:

  • what processes and procedures typically reflect your culture?
  • identify where these are well aligned and where there are inconsistencies
  • target where significant inconsistencies exist, and plan action to achieve change.

How the tool evolved

ACCA developed this tool on the basis of research conducted started in 2012 under a global initiative called Culture and channelling corporate behaviour.

We held a series of international roundtables in London, New York, Dubai and Bengaluru and surveyed around 2,000 members.

Our research highlighted that culture is driven from the top – corporate leadership has the responsibility for ensuring that organisational values are lived and breathed throughout the organisation.

The findings also showed the importance of interactions within the organisation. Everyone, including senior leadership, experiences peer pressure, formal and informal norms and mirroring of behaviour. The tool captures both formal and informal aspects of culture.

About Faye Chua, lead author, ACCA
About Faye Chua, lead author, ACCA
About Faye Chua, lead author, ACCA