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Built for This: The Impact of Workplace Culture

According to this article from Asana, organizational culture “defines and shapes the work environment”. defines it is “a collection of values, expectations and practices that guide and inform the actions of all team members”. Harvard Business Review states organizational culture is “anchored in unspoken behaviors, mindsets and social patterns” and that “for better and worse, culture and leadership are inextricably linked.”

The consensus? Organizational culture is specifically built for a purpose, to establish the desired work environment of an organization’s leaders. It’s an environment that may impact its members positively and negatively, sometimes with a specific mission in mind and sometimes entirely by accident.

Asana’s Julia Martins aptly points out that “good culture drives employee engagement and increases retention”. Why? Because a “team that feels supported” will be “able to do their best work every day.”

But culture isn’t just about pay equity and proper training for new hires. And because culture relies on people, all people must be taken into consideration when developing culture.

Imagine a workplace where team building only consisted of grabbing a drink after work or meeting up on the golf course? Or one that ignores toxic behaviour such as seemingly innocent racist or sexist remarks? What about a workplace that mainly employs individuals who only look, dress or speak a certain way? What about one that typically does the same as the latter, and on occasion breaks the mold (a diversity hire) but leaves everything else in tact?

Is anti-racist policy development and marketing enough if the root of that organization’s culture remains the same?

What does a truly supported team actually look like?

More questions than answers, we know. They’re meant to make you really think about what an inclusive workplace looks like. One that considers the well-being of all its existing and potential employees.

The fact is not all workplace cultures are built equally. Some are intended to allow specific individuals to succeed, some accidentally do so based on decades of habits that can and should be changed, others have no premeditated input from leadership whatsoever, allowing the environment to develop on its own over time, resulting in a positive or negative experience for employees.

What does your workplace culture say about your leadership? What does it say about you as an employee?

What will you do to change it?


OABP, in partnership with the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre, is offering a free workshop series designed to help Black and racialized individuals navigate racism in the workplace. We are also offering a free workshop series designed to help individuals become more impactful allies. There are limited spots available for the in-person programs. The program will also be made available online at a later and are in the process of being developed into a documentary with Potential Films Inc.

The program:

Living the Impact is the second course in OABP’s Navigating Racism in the Workplace series, presented by Shequita Thompson-Reid.

“This course will focus on building from the foundation from Session 1 to look at policies and practices that informally and formally govern organizational culture. Participants will leave the session understanding the historical context of how race has come to be shaped in to today’s current climate and the historical complexity of allyship.” – STR Consulting

Stay tuned to learn more about the other courses in the program:

§ Social Action for Change

§ From the Page to the Stage

Strategies for Impactful Allyship is a workshop series specifically designed to help non-racialized individuals develop strategies to aid in impactful allyship. The series is also presented by Shequita Thompson-Reid. Personal Location to Unpacking Allyship is the first course in this series.

“Sessions will identify the places participants can make systemic shifts in institutions for transformative justice. Participants will also identify key places for impact within the system and institutional context. Participants will leave the session with an increased connection to understanding how organizational culture is built, held and maintained as well as the power and leverage for opportunities for authentic Allyship.” – STR Consulting

Helpful resources:

1. 6 tips to build a strong organizational culture, according to Asana leaders – Asana:

2. The Workplace: Culture of Inclusion vs. Culture of Exclusion: What is the Impact? – HuffPost:

3. The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture – Harvard Business Review:

4. Organizational Culture: Definition, importance and development – Achievers:

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