How companies can use artworks to convey their values
An office space that is carefully curated with artworks can incite a particular mood while reinforcing the company’s core values to employees. Art can be a great way to express key priorities and principles while adding a creative flair to encourage imaginative thinking. With a recent study showing how 64% of millennial employees would turn down a job in a company with a poor Corporate Social Responsibility pledge, it is understandable that corporates are moving toward transparency with their ethical, social and moral impetus.
1. Communicate their core values
Depending on the purpose of a company, artwork can highlight their primary principles to employees and customers. Offices to public administration, for example, might seek to present artworks dedicated to peace and security; such as the UN office hosting the infamous Guernica, by Pablo Picasso, to emphasise those values. A Fintech company might stand for financial inclusion of the unbanked population, for example works that seek to represent the poor or refugee community can display this core value - such as Helena Barbagelata’s Water Giver II.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica (full-size tapestry copy, by Jacqueline de la Baume), United Nations. Courtesy of: UN Photos/Mark Garten, https://iran/un.org/en/172837-picasso's-guernica-tapestry-returns-united-nations
2. Show that the company upholds diversity
Diversity within race, gender and identity is imperative within contemporary companies. A recent study showed that between 30-40% of Black and Asian professionals have “Whitened” their résumés to hide their racial identity. It is imperative for employees to feel safe and welcomed within an office space, while reminding employees to uphold the same behavioural and ethical standards. Artworks such as Slasky’s My Body My Choice can show a company’s dedication to eradicate gender discrimination and harassment that can occur within and outside of the workplace. Fusing urban influences and classic contemporary pop art, Slasky references the feminist slogan discussing issues of bodily autonomy.
As the discussion of mental health becomes increasingly open, many question the role of the workplace to protect their employees’ mental wellbeing. This can show a respect for employees' individual circumstances while promoting a culture that supports their mental health. With 1 in 6.8 people experiencing mental health related-illnesses within the workplace, it is undeniably a serious focus for companies to take. Liyaan Khoso’s work Figuring it Out recognises the impact current society can have on an individual's mental health. Shirani Bolle’s piece She Didn’t Know contemplates intergenerational trauma. Corporate recognition of this thus shows a respect for individual circumstance, and the need for mental health support where necessary.
Liyaan Khoso, Figuring it Out, acrylic on canvas board, 30 x 20 cm
From a pure focus on shareholders values, companies are increasingly focusing on a wider range of “stakeholders”. Thus, issues around sustainability, human rights and poverty come into play. For example, the outdoor brand, Patagonia, now ensures the safe and ethical creation of their products - with a reduction on their environmental impact - through an amendment of their entire supply chain. Jenny Blazing’s cityscape paintings can show a company’s acknowledgement of our changing climate. Blazing’s works also show the relationship between capitalism and climate change, thus noting the company’s ability to make waves with positive change-making and responsibility.