Culture First
3 min read

What is the Culture First movement?


Didier Elzinga

Founder and CEO, Culture Amp

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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 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, in fact, we’ve seen the number of people committed to this ideal continue to 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 it’s something we’re building together. While I don’t believe in manifestos, I do believe in the importance of sharing why we believe being Culture First matters, and how we define a Culture First company. 

Below are my thoughts on the Culture First movement: 

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 in step with this new complexity.

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

A Culture First company is one that builds trust through vulnerability and actively seeks out employee feedback. We foster diversity and inclusion because it’s reflective of 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 place value on continuous improvement of both the culture and the individual.

Building a Culture First company is not without its challenges. It’s when things don’t go to plan that 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.