Salon Highlights: Monitoring Company Culture

Athena Alliance
2 min readDec 30, 2019

Culture has become a hot topic at the board level — for good reason. A company’s intangible assets, including talent and culture, make up a large percentage of their value. Athena member Kathy Zwickert, board director at Avalara and former chief people officer at Netskope, led a members-only virtual salon about how the board can monitor company culture without stepping on the CEO’s toes.

  1. Create a partnership with the CEO and management to make sure everyone is bought into the culture. This will clarify how involved the board should be in monitoring culture. Be careful and know your CEO, as some may not be as open to the board’s involvement and feel threatened.
  2. As a board, figure out how you’re going to monitor the culture now that you have buy-in from the CEO. This could include creating dashboards or quarterly meetings with management. Get a sense for the environment of the organization on-site. Keep your ears open, keep your eyes open, and engage with employees at all levels of the organization to get a true sense of the climate.
  3. Create accountability at management level. If you don’t hold management accountable, you haven’t done anything to protect the shareholders interest. Work with your management team and board to build culture into executives’ short-term incentives. Identify, establish, and measure a number of inside metrics, such as employee satisfaction score.
  4. Tell your shareholders about it. Build it into your annual report and include it in your disclosures. Integrate culture into your compensation discussion and analysis. And think about how the culture is driving tangible value for your shareholders.

Members can listen to the full recording in the Resource Library.

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