Culture – the tip of the iceberg

It has been said that culture is like an iceberg, only 10% of it is visible and the other 90% is hidden below the surface.

As a fly on the wall, anyone watching one of totrain’s Friday meetings would encounter John and I bickering, Helen glancing at us, particularly me, with a certain amount of distain and one could derive from this experience that our

‘culture’, certainly at director level, could be perceived as antagonistic, quarrelsome and dismissive but,scratch under the surface and hopefully you’ll see that we are supportive of each other and all working towards a common goal.

(As you can see culture really helps!)

It’s the scratching under the surface that’s important, but what’s the scratching method? In our case I would imagine that that it could be to interview us individually, all going through the same questions, by an independent observer.

Conversely, in a food manufacturing environment the perceived culture of the company’s attitude to food safety could be equally inconsistent. The management may believe that they have a solid reputation, the customers have no reason to believe otherwise and the operators, i.e. the shop floor workers, don’t even understand the question probably because they have never been asked.

So, what would happen if a manufacturer had to prove their culture towards food safety and how do you measure ’culture’? Some of a company’s approach to food safety is easily identified, such as hygiene and cleanliness, but others are hidden below the surface which makes any assessment difficult.

A company’s culture is something that always exists. It can be defined as the way we do things and there is no easy way of changing culture.

Supported by research we have created a starting point, a method of assessment via an anonymous online questionnaire through which we can plot and gain greater understanding of your food safety culture both within your business and across the industry. It will give an understanding of where you are now and where you need to be.

A food manufacturer’s food safety culture is determined by the behaviour of every single person within the business.