Dec 10, 2018 | Leadership, People

The best organizations today understand that culture is their strongest asset and can be the glue to retaining top talent. Whether you nurture it or not, you have a culture. It may be empowering or toxic. Either way, the results are showing up on your bottom line.


Here are the 12 companies we featured in CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.


1. New Belgium Brewing, “Culture isn’t about what you say; it’s about what you do”

On December 29, 2012, employees at New Belgium Brewing started getting more than a paycheck. They got a 100% ownership stake in the company, and even more reason to be stewards in its success.

In an article for Outside Online, Simpson said, “New Belgium is the kind of place where you walk through the front door, high-five your co-workers all the way to your desk/lab/machine, and laugh out loud all throughout the day. At the same time, you’re working harder than you ever have at anything else, and it somehow means more. That’s a powerful alchemy.” [Read more]


2. Boxed, “Delivering joy across the country with every order”

In August 2013, an idea sprang to life in a 2-car garage that today is threatening to put Costco out of business. Chieh Huang founded Boxed (aka Costco for Millennials) when he realized that none of the big box warehouse titans offered home delivery of bulk-ordered items. Today, Boxed employs over 500 people in four state-of-the-art fulfillment centers from New Jersey to Las Vegas. Here are just a few ways that Boxed gives back to its employees:

  • Unlimited, full-paid parental leave – Click here to check out why.
  • Free college tuition – Learn more about why Boxed made education a priority here.
  • Paid employee weddings [Read more]


3. Zillow Group, “Zillow Group is a team sport”

In case you have not been one of the website’s 188 million monthly visitors, Zillow is an online real estate database that allows users to search millions of for-sale and rental listings. What most people outside of the company don’t know about Zillow is that it has an impressive Glassdoor rating of 4.2 (out of 5), has made Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list on four occasions, and CEO Spencer Rascoff has made the highest ranking CEO list three times. Much of Zillow’s success can be credited to the corporate culture that helps motivate the organization’s more than 3,000 employees. [Read more]




4. Bumble Bee, “Leading a healthy lifestyle and preserving our precious resources”

Bumble Bee Seafoods traces its origins back to 1899 and a handful of fishermen in Astoria, Oregon. Today, this privately-owned company employees 1,500 people across the world from its headquarters in San Diego to fish suppliers in Southeast Asia.

While its 119-year history is impressive, the company’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability is even more impressive. In 2009, the company founded the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. The Foundation is comprised of 75% of the world’s shelf-stable seafood corporations, and scientists with the World Wildlife Fund. In 2016, Bumble Bee Seafoods joined the Seafood Task Force, an organization focused on providing supply chain oversight, addressing social issues such as human trafficking and slavery, and environmental issues like overfishing. [Read more]


5. First GREEN Bank, “A local bank with a global mission”

Like most banks, First Green Bank (nka Seacoast Bank) provides basic financial services: checking and savings accounts, CDs, and commercial, residential, and consumer lending. Why did it make our Business in Focus? Its commitment to environmental and social impact.

Since 2009, Orlando-based First Green Bank has worked by the motto “to do the right thing” for the environment and the community. The company’s headquarters is in a LEED Platinum building with a living plant wall, koi pond, green roof, and a solar array. The condensation from the air-conditioning system is collected to flush toilets and provide irrigation. Nearby trails make running and biking on lunch breaks easy. The complimentary refreshment bar—stocked with local, fair trade, organic products—makes post-workout recovery even easier. [Read more]


6. sweetgreen, “Inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food”

In 2007, three hungry Georgetown students were constantly on the search for food. But, for Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru, Taco Bell just wasn’t cutting it. They started talking about their post-graduation plans and decided to fix their own problem. And sweetgreen was born. Eleven years later, the founders of this hip and healthy farm-to-table salad chain are controlling one of America’s most successful startups. With over 70 locations and 3,500 employees, sweetgreen is putting the sexy in salad. The secret to their success? In a word – culture.

As the founders told Bloomberg in a 2015 interview, “We’re all the children of entrepreneurs, so the standard institutional options for where we might work really didn’t appeal to any of us. We didn’t want to create in an institutional environment. So, in many ways, the desire to build a business of our own, in our own sustainable way, plus the desire to find better food options in Georgetown, did it.” Some of the hallmarks of the sweetgreen culture are values, experience, and impact. [Read more]


7. Twinings, “Improving the quality of life in communities where we source our products”

Since opening its doors in 1717, Thomas Twinings’ Golden Lyon tea shop at 216 Strand has become a staple of London’s history. 300 years later, it’s the world’s oldest running dry tea and coffee shop. You may not find it surprising that Twinings has a storied history with British royalty, was fondly remembered by a young Jane Austen, or fortified Londoners’ spirits by continuously brewing and serving tea during the bombings of the city during World War II. You may be surprised to learn, however, that Twinings recently achieved Best Place to Work, U.K., recognition four years in a row. [Read more]


8. CORE Foods, “Empower people with fresh foods and honest resources”

What do the Disney movie Bambi and the BBC reality show Last Man Standing have in common? Corey Rennell, Founder of CORE Foods. The same week that Corey first watched Bambi at age 7, his father brought home a deer he’d shot on a hunting trip. By the time he was old enough to decide what food he would and would not eat, Rennell declared himself a vegan. While attending Harvard, Rennell was recruited as a contestant on Last Man Standing.

By 2015, Core Foods was declared the Bay Area’s 29th fastest-growing company. A successful $90,000 Kickstarter campaign helped Rennell and his team open Core Kitchen, the world’s first produce-only restaurant. Today, not only does Core Kitchen deliver fresh, healthy food to its customers, but much of its workforce is made up of formerly incarcerated men and women who needed someone to give them a second chance. [Read more]


9. Panasonic, “A better life, a better world”

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Panasonic? Speakers? Light bulbs? TV sets? These products and many more have been the hallmark of the Panasonic brand since its humble beginnings 100 years ago in Osaka, Japan. The Panasonic of today may not look like the one you grew up with. But, its founder, Konosuke Matsushita would take pride in the company’s continuous drive to design the future.

This year, the company made good on that commitment by winning the Milan Design Week award for technology with its installation called “Air Inventions”. The installation marks Panasonic’s transition from a consumer products behemoth to a solutions-based company focused on improving our environment. [Read more]


10. Buffer, “A team of real people, aligned in common values”

If your job includes posting updates on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, you’re probably familiar with Buffer. Why? Buffer lets you automatically post across multiple social media platforms according to when you want your target audience to see those posts.

Tools to optimize social media may not be in your job description, but if you’re a leader who values culture, Buffer is worth learning more about. In the eight years since its inception, Buffer has grown to more than 4.5 million users and over $16 million in annual revenue. In a recent Globoforce study about the effect of work relationships on culture and commitment, 93% of respondents said that it is important to have colleagues think highly of them. [Read more]


11. Rathbone Group, LLC, “Exceeding client expectations”

A law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, is probably not the first organization you think of when you imagine winners of awards for organizational culture. Yet, under the leadership of managing partner Joel Rathbone, the Rathbone Group has been recognized by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and organizers of the Smart Culture Awards for one of the city’s Top Workplaces awards. The secret to the firm’s culture success lies partially in its unique workweek structure, beginning with Management Monday. [Read more]



12. W.S. Badger, “Family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly” 

Heading back to work after you’ve just bonded with your newborn can be agony. In 2006, a new mother at New Hampshire-based W.S. Badger was hoping to make the transition easier when she asked if she could bring her new baby back to work with her. That question launched an innovative family-friendly program at Badger where healthy body care products – from mustache wax to baby products – are packaged and sold online and at retailers including Whole Foods and Wegmans.

The family-owned company created a family friendly program that includes an intake interview with the expectant parent (both mothers and fathers). Managers work with expectant parents to explore new roles within the company, shorten their work weeks or work remotely, bring babies under six months to the office, and more. Recently, a plant expansion led to discussions about whether the program was too costly. After reassessing the make-room-for-baby policy, managers decided to double down on the program by hiring fulltime daycare providers to make the program run more efficiently. [Learn more]

Kudos to all 12 of these amazing companies who understand the value of culture as a competitive advantage! 


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



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