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Organisations must be proactive when it comes to culture change

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Organisations must be open, transparent and courageous when it comes to changing their cultures

Organisations must be proactive when it comes to establishing a company culture, according to Toby Peyton-Jones, HR director for Siemens UK & North West Europe.

"It is critical that organisations do not leave their culture to chance," he said, speaking at the annual CIPD conference in Manchester. "You can't let it evolve on its own. You have to be very clear about what it is that you want.

"To change culture you have to create that conversation in an organisation around topics like trust, and try to get permission rather than just rolling out your culture."

Peyton-Jones said he could see organisations becoming more open with sharing their sensitive data in the future. "In Sweden and other countries you have to publish salaries by law. We are going inextricably towards transparency, and you can't keep your data secret now," he said.

Speaking in the same panel discussion, Derek Burton, company leader of Cougar Automation, discussed the difficulties of rolling out changes to company culture.

"Culture is difficult to impose," he said. "I read an article about the VW scandal, but this is a company that has spent millions on corporate social responsibility. In that regard it was ticking every box, but the culture still enabled an individual to do that [cheat on emissions tests]. CSR can be a sham."

Louise Fisher, human resources director for Xerox Europe, said that HR should not be afraid to speak out. "HR needs more courage," she added. "We have to be that grit in the oyster in order to create change.

"Many HR people are already courageous but for those worried about having a difficult conversation – remember that it's worse if you don't have it. You also won't have the benefit of transparency."