7 Ways CFOs Can Shape Corporate Culture

by FEI Daily Staff

There are several ways financial executives can develop their company’s corporate culture.


Financial executives’ influence in their businesses continues to grow. They’re playing larger roles in organizational strategy and working with, and sometimes leading, departments outside of accounting and finance.

Another area where research shows many financial executives play an instrumental role is with their company’s corporate culture. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, 51 percent of CFOs said they are involved in shaping their firm’s culture. CFOs interviewed most commonly are basing their actions on the company’s values, contributing to the development of the organization’s mission and working with their fellow executives to define the desired culture.

Even those who aren’t actively involved have a hand in their company’s culture. Employees take their cues from senior leadership, and how executives conduct themselves provides an example for the rest of the organization. Said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, “Proper financial reporting and management set a model for the firm’s business, ethics and corporate culture.”

Why make corporate culture a priority?

In addition to establishing the right environment for the company, CFOs, and all managers, need to make corporate culture a priority to ensure their firm attracts and retains skilled employees. Top performers have options and want to be part of organizations where they have support, enjoy working with their colleagues, see advancement opportunities and make a difference. When a company is known for a positive workplace, recruiting and retention become easier.

Actively shaping corporate culture also provides career benefits for financial executives. In particular, Hird noted developing their organization’s mission and values and then rallying employees around them helps prepare CFOs for a CEO role.

7 ways to actively shape corporate culture

There are several ways financial executives can develop their company’s corporate culture. Here are seven to help you get started:

  1. Lead by example. Embody the values of your firm and take an interest in others’ success, and your team will follow.
  2. Talk to staff about what they want. Problems arise when leadership’s vision for the company is different from their teams’. Ask employees for feedback on what they seek in your workplace environment.
  3. Foster an environment of appreciation. Thank individuals for their contributions and recognize their achievements. In the process, you’ll motivate staff and reinforce the type of performance expected.
  4. Tell employees why their work matters. People want to make a difference with their work and know how they contribute to the success of the company and its customers. Connect team members’ accomplishments to larger business objectives.
  5. Support individuals’ career growth. Prioritize training, and work with employees to develop career paths. If you don’t help professionals meet their goals, they’ll likely look for an organization that will.
  6. Provide updates on company performance. Your employees want to know how the company is faring, including its opportunities and challenges. Leaving staff in the dark will increase stress levels and speculation.
  7. Create an environment where people turn jobs into careers. Make your company an enjoyable place to work. Show your team how they can succeed at your firm and help them build bonds with their colleagues.
Shaping corporate culture doesn’t need to be a major initiative. By setting a strong example and helping their teams succeed, financial executives can establish a positive and productive workplace environment for their company.

Carrie Wentling is the director of member services for Financial Executives International.