tw:in PULSE

Recent high profile scandals (hi Uber!) point to a massive shift in business and consumerism. That is? In an age of radical transparency, your internal culture is becoming a key part of your brand. And that’s a shift that no founder, CEO, strategist or marketer can ignore  no matter where in the world you are.

Powered by TrendWatching’s Insight Network, this edition of the tw:in Pulse provides a new perspective on how the Glass Box Brand effect is playing out across the globe. Featuring nine game-changing innovations from Turkey to Brazil, alongside first-hand insight from our on-the-ground spotters, see how brands and consumers are responding to this trend by making meaningful, positive change to their internal culture and then sharing that story with the world.

Example: Values

Alexandra Castro Mondragón

Media analyst

Bogotá, Colombia

Restaurant aims to hire immigrants from Venezuela:

Sierra Nevada announced an initiative to hire ten employees from Venezuela. The Colombian restaurant’s move is designed to aid migrants who have fled to Colombia in response to dire conditions in Venezuela. Sierra Nevada made the announcement in August 2017 on its Facebook page, using the hashtag #CausaSierraNevada.

Alexandra’s comments:

“In Colombia, the unemployment rate is very high. Many companies are taking advantage of  Venezuelans fleeing from the problems in their own country, knowing that they are in need of an income and are accepting wages that are much lower than what Colombians will require.

Sierra Nevada wanted to show their solidarity by offering jobs to ten Venezuelans residing legally in the country, offering them the same conditions that Colombians receive. By taking this action, Sierra Nevada wants people to see them as a brand that cares for people and believes in justice and equality. They aren’t afraid of speaking out and doing what they consider to be the right thing, even if that means losing a few customers.”

Example: People

Mariam Madany

Freelance Qualitative Researcher

Cairo, Egypt

Telecom’s summer ‘Sahel’ hours helps employees to achieve work-life balance:

Orange Egypt launched summer working hours (referred to as ‘Sahel’ hours in Egypt) for their employees in July 2017. The initiative was promoted on the company’s ‘Life at Orange Egypt’ Facebook page, which showcases the company’s internal culture and has over 170,000 followers.

Mariam’s comments:

“Orange Egypt has been going the extra mile to show off their internal culture. Last year, the company set up a Facebook page specifically for telling the world about everything they do for their employees.

On this page, they announced their new summer working hours, colloquially known as ‘Sahel hours’. They were put in place for two reasons: a) to avoid Cairo’s traffic chaos and b) to give employees time to take weekend trips to the coastal town of Sahel.

This is a unique measure, as very few companies in Egypt take specific and out-of-the-box steps to ensure that employees maintain a healthy work-life balance and enjoy being at work.”

Example: Processes

Dennis Rotairo

Assistant Marketing Manager

Singapore City, Singapore

Government ensures toilet access to city’s taxi drivers:

The Seoul Metropolitan Government teamed up with Korea Smart Card in August 2017 to ensure that taxi drivers always have access to a toilet. The initiative created a tool on taxi credit card readers that helps drivers locate the nearest toilet (mainly those at gas stations). The government will also supply local businesses with enough supplies (including toilet paper and soap) to accommodate the drivers.

Dennis’s comments:

“While modern metropolitan cities often seem to be brimming with sophistication, many of their issues are swept under the rug. In Seoul, 79% of cab drivers have been denied usage of ‘public’ toilets. Thanks to this initiative, all toilets at 400+ gas stations in the city are now ruled as freely accessible to taxi drivers, and will now be easier to locate.

This issue might seem like something that would be of little concern to the government. But because meaningful measures were passed to solve it, we’re left with the impression that Seoul is a city that cares for all.”

Example: Values

Ozgur Alaz


Istanbul, Turkey

Guide advises employees on combating discrimination:

On Valentine’s Day in February 2017, Borusan Group in Turkey published a guide and video (titled #LoveBeginswithLanguage) discussing how language can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and discrimination in the workplace. The industrial group collaborated with the Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center at Kadir University to develop the guide, which provides examples of common phrases promoting gender and age discrimination.

Ozgur’s comments:

“Over the past few decades, groups who were at a disadvantage (due to their race, language, religion, sexual orientation, and gender) have overcome many obstacles in the workplace. These obstacles are often hidden in our words, jokes and proverbs.

The guide that Borusan created shows that respect for everyone is one of the brand’s core values. The company understood that the first step when it comes to creating a culture that is free from discriminatory language and prejudice is to change the attitude of people inside the organization. If language changes, mindsets change; if mindsets change, workplaces turn into spaces where everybody feels equal and free.”

Example: Values

Vinicius Alves da Cruz Mauro

Media Supervisor

São Paulo, Brazil

Ad agency unveils racial diversity program:

In July 2017, J. Walter Thompson Brazil unveiled a program aiming to expand racial diversity within the company. 20/20 aims to ensure that by 2020 at least 20% of the strategic staff within the ad agency are of black or African descent, spanning the media, creative, planning and account management departments. J. Walter Thompson also employed a human resources company specializing in hiring and developing black talent.

Vinicius’s comments:

“Brazil is a country that has enormous inequality in revenue and opportunities. Black people, gay people and women need to work hard to gain access to good jobs and be treated as equals. A reflection of this is the precariousness of the social and racial inclusion policies at large companies. J. Walter Thompson’s initiative, despite being focused on the black population, can be hugely influential in stimulating inclusion policies at other large companies.

The initiative involves a specialized HR consultancy, EmpregueAfro, and was launched during a Racial Equity Week. It was promoted to clients, partners and to the advertising industry at large. There was also wide media coverage and the initiative received intense support on social networks.”

Example: People

Antonello Schiavo

EMEA Sales Coach

Krakow, Poland

Gaming company studies in-game behaviour of own employees:

US video game company Riot Games makes the highly popular League of Legends multiplayer online battle game. Riot asked their talent and game design teams to study if negative in-game behavior from own employees (dubbed ‘toxic’ behavior) could help them predict negative behavior in the workplace. The company found that there was a correlation between toxic in-game behavior and negative behavior in the office. Riot Games met with their 30 most ‘toxic’ employees to discuss their behavior and support them to improve. They now also use in-game data to evaluate job candidates, and are working with MIT to study which personalities form an ideal team.

Antonello’s comments:

“Toxic employee behavior can be difficult to spot, especially when your organization starts to grow. Research has shown that just one ‘bad apple’ can influence the performance of an entire team. Having access to the in-game behavior of all players was a good starting point for Riot, and this example should make you think – no matter your industry – about the way you hire. After all, your new hire’s online behavior is just one “Google search” away from you.

And Riot not only applied these findings to their company, but they also introduced an in-game ‘Tribunal system’ where negative player behavior is reported.”

Example: People

Poorvi Arora

Trend Researcher

New Delhi, India

Startup offers paid leave to women on their period:

In July 2017, Culture Machine introduced a HR policy giving women a day’s paid leave on the first day of their menstrual cycle. The India-based digital video startup created the scheme following an employee being particularly unwell due to her period. Nearly 75% of female employees showed support for the policy in a YouTube video created by the company.

Poorvi’s comments:

“Who would’ve thought that a simple leave policy could simultaneously garner worldwide attention and sow the seeds of change? It is no secret that women often give up their sick days to stay home on the first days of their period. With a policy like the ‘First Day of Period leave’, Culture Machine became the first Indian company to acknowledge their female employees’ needs in this way.

And while ‘feminism’ and ‘female empowerment’ are trending terms on social media, companies like Culture Machine are walking the talk by introducing such initiatives, especially in a country like India (where talking about menstruation itself is a taboo). They even went a step further and started an online competition, urging the government to bring this policy into legislation.”

Example: Processes

Christopher O. Ajulo

Data Scientist

Lagos, Nigeria

Bank unveils employee promotions despite economic crisis:

August 2017 saw Nigeria’s First Bank promote more than 3,000 staff members in recognition of their work and ‘strong performance in driving the Bank’s business’ – despite the economic crisis in the country. Lower and middle management staff were promoted as a reward for their customer service delivery. The bank has also unveiled new management programs to facilitate leadership building among staff.

Christopher’s comments:

“First Bank focused on their staff’s career development, aiming to build outstanding leaders in a country bereft of exceptional business and political leaders. They exemplify a Glass Box Brand, as their culture gives employees a sense of ownership and responsibility over their careers. This will greatly impact the Nigerian and the African economy. This fusing of leadership development programmes and workplace culture also suggests that all employees are being developed and empowered within the workplace, which will most likely optimize the entire corporation’s performance.”

Example: Values

Kama Kaczmarczyk

Design Strategist

Toronto, Canada

Café offers cooking courses for refugees:

July 2017 saw Emma’s Torch Classroom Café begin offering cooking courses for refugees. The Brooklyn eatery is helping refugees, asylum seekers and human trafficking victims by offering them the opportunity to learn relevant culinary skills. One dollar from every muffin or avocado toast sold is contributed to the courses, which results in a living wage for the refugees.

Kama’s comments:

“North America has been going through diversity and inclusivity turmoil, especially with the current political situation and recent travel bans. Many businesses, however, do not stay passive and take action to lead by example. Emma’s Torch – a restaurant and school for refugees in one – used diversity as its key asset to build its internal culture. With a mandate to accommodate and welcome everyone, it sends a powerful message to the world that we should all value equality, empathize with others, and work together to stay strong in the midst of this heated political climate.”


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About The Author:



This article has many hands on it. A huge thanks to Lisa Feierstein, Marco Sottana, Laura Varetto, Francesca Coppola, Victoria Kim, Nikki Ritmeijer and Alida Urban who all helped to pull this together.