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Blog - Didier Elzinga, author profile

Didier Elzinga

Founder & CEO, Culture Amp


At the inaugural Culture First conference in San Francisco, I had the privilege of speaking to close to 1,000 people geeks on stage. Bringing our dream of a global event for our community to a life filled me with pride.

Two years ago, I wrote an article on what it means to be a Culture First company and why it matters. Since then, Culture Amp has grown to over 200 people, and we're now supporting over 1,700 customers. The original intention behind Culture First has stood the test of time we've seen the number of people committed to this ideal grow.

However, when my team asked me to write a manifesto for this movement - I pushed back. 

I don't believe that a manifesto or mission statement, however well-written, will be the catalyst that inspires people to act. I believe in leading by example and inspiring others through engaging storytelling.  

So yes, Culture First is a global movement towards a better workplace, but we're building it together. While I don't believe in manifestos, I believe in sharing why we think being Culture First matters and how we define a Culture First company. 

The importance of workplace culture can’t be understated - we spend more time at work than anywhere else. We have a moral responsibility to support our employees, people of all generations, backgrounds, and genders, as we face the unique challenges of modern work.

The problems employees are being asked to solve today are more complex than ever before. There has never been so much innovation happening at such a speed. However, the way most organizations work hasn’t grown with this new complexity.

To thrive, organizations have to put culture first - not last.

A Culture First company builds trust through vulnerability and actively seeks out employee feedback. We foster diversity and inclusion because it reflects the world we want to live in. When making decisions, a Culture First company always considers the impact on people and culture. Rather than seeking perfection, we value continuous improvement of both the culture and the individual.

Building a Culture First company is not without its challenges. When things don’t go to plan, we need to know what we’re willing to hurt for.

Being Culture First is not an alternative outcome to success. It is how to achieve it. 

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