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Community and Culture Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

Why you can’t have one as a competitive advantage without the other

Laura Smith
Mar 26 · 8 min read

Head of HR… and Community?

A lot of people ask me why my job title is Head of HR and Community. The rationale reflects major shifts in the nature of the organization and makeup of competitive advantage. I think it will become increasingly commonplace to look at HR in a community context.

The importance of culture

Let’s look at how lacking a culture can drastically reduce a startup’s ability to develop a strong community.

Wrong culture is the second most common reason startups fail

Since startups operate in a dynamic, uncertain environment (today more than ever before!), they’re compelled to be more agile. However, a startup can only be as nimble as the people on the team. This applies to both the early stages and the periods of high growth.

Negative workplace culture creates lonely, burned out, and depressed people

Nothing says “I’m glad to get out of here” quite like a 5pm mass staff exodus. And this is just one of the many tell-tales that company culture is a serious issue. In the long term, a negative culture can become toxic, literally causing wellbeing and health issues.

Unsound culture overflows in the community and affects trust in the company

Unethical behaviour at work breeds unethical conduct outside of the workplace.

Community as a competitive advantage

As well as this inside-out view of how company culture reverberates beyond the boundaries of the organization itself and affects the community, let’s consider the outside-in opportunity: building a strong community that creates an important competitive advantage for the company.

Some things to consider when defining culture and building communities

1. A shared set of values

It’s important to have a vision that everyone can align around and feel galvanized by.

2. Sizing the gap between what you preach and what you practice

Both community and culture depend on having open and transparent leadership.

3. Connecting the community to the meaningful effects of their work

At the end of the day, everyone does better work when they can see their effort makes a difference.

4. Empowering members to contribute

The best cultures foster empowerment and give people the autonomy to do their best work. Successful communities require the same.

5. Making diversity a core principle and part of every action

I’ve written before about the importance of diversity. It’s absolutely critical because people should bring their whole self to work and be valued for who they are, they should feel comfortable.

6. Setting a high bar — for them and for you

Whether company or community, set high bars to joining.

To wrap up, I’d like to leave with a reminder

Communities thrive on the compound effects of small actions done consistently. Luckily, culture is just that.


Trade Ledger

Trade Ledger is the world’s first Open Banking Platform…

Laura Smith

Written by

Head of HR & Community at Trade Ledger — Passion in building a people-focused culture, strong leadership and an engaged workforce to drive business growth.

Trade Ledger

Trade Ledger is the world’s first Open Banking Platform that gives banks the ability to assess business lending risk in real-time. Our Lending-as-a-Service (LaaS) technology enables banks to address the £1.2 trillion of undersupply in trade finance lending globally.

Laura Smith

Written by

Head of HR & Community at Trade Ledger — Passion in building a people-focused culture, strong leadership and an engaged workforce to drive business growth.

Trade Ledger

Trade Ledger is the world’s first Open Banking Platform that gives banks the ability to assess business lending risk in real-time. Our Lending-as-a-Service (LaaS) technology enables banks to address the £1.2 trillion of undersupply in trade finance lending globally.

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