Culture evolution at LRN: 2022 insights

LRN is growing and evolving. From expanding our core product offerings and technology developments to increasing client business in key global markets, there is no doubt our opportunities and our culture are evolving. Yet with this growth, our values remain steady and true: pursuing our mission with passion, grounding in truth, learning with humility, and working with integrity. Recently, LRN applied these values in assessing our current ethical culture to identify areas of strength and those that need attention. 

Developing ethical culture 

At LRN, we know that corporate ethics are shaped by a system of interdependent forces that operate at different levels. These interdependent forces are: 

  • At the organizational level, a compelling mission, clear guiding principles, and well-communicated core values are essential to orienting your people towards what matters and navigating work situations with integrity.  
  • At a leadership level, ethical behavior and core values must be modeled by leaders and recognized and encouraged in team members.  
  • At an individual level, people should work in an atmosphere characterized by trust, fairness, belonging, and freedom of expression.  

This model forms the basis of LRN’s Ethical Culture & Program Assessment (ECPA), a service we offer to our client partners which surveys their employees to gain insight into their company culture, ethics, and compliance. In so doing, the ECPA helps leadership teams understand, manage, and invest in their ethical culture – critical to mitigating ethics risks, protecting reputation, and—as our research shows—also propelling the bottom line. 

LRN’s Ethical Performance Model 

We know that investments in culture matter. Our research (detailed in the LRN Benchmark of Ethical Culture report) demonstrates that a company’s ethical culture significantly predicts key business outcomes, including business growth, innovation, adaptability, customer satisfaction, and employee loyalty. 

Ethical Performance Model from the LRN Benchmark of Ethical Culture

Image caption: Ethical Performance Model from the LRN Benchmark of Ethical Culture 

Our own Ethical Culture & Program Assessment 

To live our mission and drive our business forward, we conducted an Ethical Culture & Program Assessment on ourselves at LRN. We partnered with a third party to manage the process for us so we could assure the confidentiality of our colleagues’ participation and feedback. This assessment gave us a clear picture of our ethical culture today and where our colleagues would like to see us go in the future. It also gave us the opportunity to benchmark our ethical culture against industry norms. 

The assessment showed that colleagues overwhelmingly believe that LRN is an ethical company with a clearly communicated purpose and broader role in the world—not necessarily surprising given the nature of our business, but a great confirmation, nonetheless. Colleagues also rated the extent to which people are treated equitably at LRN quite high, which we hope is reflective of our intentional efforts to ensure LRN is a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workspace. I was pleased to see how managers at LRN are positively contributing to our ethical culture: they are good role models of our values, hold themselves to the same standards as everyone else, and encourage their team to share ideas and suggestions. We will continue to leverage these strengths as we evolve and empower our client partners towards Inspiring Principled Performance. 

Yet, like all organizations, LRN also has room for growth. Over the last two years, we have doubled the number of colleagues in the organization, supported a remote work culture amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and advanced our product innovation. Rapid expansion can be challenging to adapt to, and that came out in some of our assessment results. We need to create more structure around our policies and resources that provide guidance to colleagues around how we work, foster a more robust “speak out” culture, and ensure that colleagues know and experience that how work is completed is valued as much as the outcomes we achieve. 

After the survey assessment in the spring, we began developing action plans for each of our ethical culture growth areas. By summer we are already holding monthly Lunch & Learn sessions with our chief legal officer who oversees E&C at LRN, making E&C resources for our multinational business easier to find on the Intranet, refreshing and reintroducing our Code of Conduct, and setting our sights on the deployment of a Smart Code microsite by year’s end. We are also planning to benchmark our own progress in the development of our ethical culture by doing an ECPA every 18 months.  

I am grateful to my LRN colleagues for sharing their feedback and am committed to continuing to cultivate a strong ethical culture—for the sake of our people, for the health of our business, and in pursuit of our mission of helping people around the world do the right thing.