CultureCon attains B Corp. certification
Highlighting its high standards of social and environmental performance, the B Corp. status enables CultureCon to further its workplace culture mission.
Founded in 2017 as an annual conference in Madison, CultureCon has since grown its services to include expanded event experiences, public and private course offerings, and custom consulting services. Now, it can add certified B Corp. to its list of accomplishments.
This certification is awarded to companies that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, and underscores the brand’s commitment towards building more uplifting, fulfilling, and healthier workplaces. CultureCon is one of only 18 companies in Wisconsin that hold the certification.
“Since our inception, our mission hasn’t changed — we want to be the conduit that brings together the nation’s foremost organizational culture experts and delivers learning experiences that empower individuals, regardless of their roles and titles, to inspire positive change within their own companies,” says Zach Blumenfeld, co-founder of CultureCon. “All of our offerings are grounded in pragmatic, actionable takeaways. We want our community to be able to take what they learn and start creating change at their organizations.”
Accelerated by the shift to remote work and tight labor markets, CultureCon has seen an increase in customer demand for learning opportunities that help companies build more positive working environments. “The business imperative for cultivating an organizational culture where employees feel connected, embraced, and supported has never been higher,” shares Nick Lombardino, co-founder of CultureCon. “Companies that don’t take it seriously, or approach it superficially, run the risk of not being able to hire and retain talent. Working for human-centered organizations is now an expectation, not a perk, among candidates and employees.”
According to Lombardino, “human connection” is one of CultureCon’s core values as an organization. “When we’re able to offer in-person event experiences, human connection is reflected and felt in how our attendees bring positive energy, enthusiastically share knowledge, develop meaningful connections, and spark creativity among one another. For fear of sounding overly corny, it’s magical. This incredible energy and sense of shared purpose is what supported our rapid growth from inception through the start of the pandemic.”
Like most organizations, the pandemic presented significant challenges for CultureCon’s business. Namely, it put the organization in a position to reimagine how it engages its customers while maintaining a deep sense of human connection, something Lombardino notes is not easily replicated virtually. “This was a significant turning point for our organization because it helped us envision a future for our business that wasn’t just in-person conference experiences.”
As a result, CultureCon launched and expanded several offerings to not only meet its customers’ growing requests for services, but also enabled the organization to expand its geographical reach:
- CultureSpace — A free digital platform for CultureCon’s community to share knowledge, ask questions, make connections, and participate in monthly, culture-centric webinars.
- Courses — Small, instructor-led learning experiences that go deep into culture-centric topics — e.g., diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), innovation, leadership — that promote individual growth and increase our collective capacity to influence change.
- Consulting — Using its vetted, national network of organizational culture experts, CultureCon creates custom, right-fitted solutions to help companies optimize their workplace culture.
Lombardino says CultureCon’s decision to become a certified B Corp. was motivated by its commitment toward expanding its social mission to inspire positive change around organizational culture. “B Lab, our certifying body, has intensive certification requirements to ensure that their companies meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. Their evaluation process is multifaceted. It includes a rigorous assessment tool to measure, manage, and improve a company’s positive impact performance for workers, communities, suppliers, and the environment.
“To assist with our certification process, we partnered with Dr. David Steingard, professor at St. Joseph’s University, and a team of talented students,” continues Lombardino. “Dr. Steingard is a nationally recognized thought leader in business management and ethics. Having recently spoken at the World Economic Forum to discuss the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr. Steingard had unique qualifications and insights to help guide us through the certification process.
“The B Corp. certification puts us in the highest echelon of socially and environmentally responsible businesses and will continue to hold us accountable toward maximizing our mission achievement,” adds Lombardino. “CultureCon aside, we see our B Corp. certification as an opportunity to educate and encourage other companies to apply for the certification so that as a business community, we can grow organizations that are more socially and environmentally responsible.”
When CultureCon was started in 2017, there was increasing excitement toward the topic of workplace culture, explains Lombardino. Over the past two years, there has been significant progress surrounding the topic of personal introspection and its intersection with work.
“The pandemic, as challenging as it has been, has gifted us an opportunity to look inward,” Lombardino notes. “Many of us asked ourselves, ‘What’s most important to me? Where do I find fulfillment? How does my work support my life goals?’ Although the answers to these questions don’t often come easy, they give way to uncovering our ‘best self,’ which is critical in our ability to influence positive change around organizational culture.
“This isn’t a new concept,” continues Lombardino. “Humans have always desired fulfilling and meaningful work, but through channeling our best self at work, it creates the bridge for shared accountability among employees and employers. Employees want to work for organizations that allow them to bring their full, authentic self, and have opportunities to use their intrinsic motivators and showcase their unique strengths. Conversely, employers want engaged, motivated workers who, when harnessed correctly, move the organization toward new, exciting frontiers.
“As a result, we are witnessing paradigm shift in the way we work. Organizations are rapidly embracing their employees in new, holistic ways. Working environments are shifting from rigid, hierarchical, and inflexible to become more collaborative, equitable, and innovative. To navigate this paradigm shift, it requires employers get even better at communicating the company’s purpose and values, building effective hiring practices, creating mechanisms for uplifting work, and cultivating meaningful relationships inside and outside the organization.”
CultureCon will soon welcome the return of its flagship event, CultureCon 2022, taking place on Aug. 10–11 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. The event will feature presentations from senior executives from LinkedIn, Wikipedia, SAP, Human Rights Watch, Credit Karma, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Spectrum Health, and many others.
“We can’t wait to feel the deep sense of human connection again in person and welcome so many individuals and companies that will be visiting Madison for the first time,” says Lombardino. “With that, as much as our conference is about celebrating and inspiring positive organizational culture, we also use it as an opportunity to celebrate and elevate Madison. To support that goal, we’ve created a gamification around the conference to get attendees out of the hotel and into the community — food cart lunches, walks down State Street, sunsets at The Memorial Union, and of course, cheese curds.”
Program schedules, speaker lineups, and online registration can be found at www.cultureconusa.org/culturecon22.
In addition to the return of its annual, flagship conference, “Mini” CultureCons will also be coming back soon. These are smaller CultureCon experiences that are hosted in cities across the country. In addition to Madison, past cities have included Milwaukee, Chicago, and Kansas City. Fall/winter dates are being targeted for the return of Minis.
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