A few years ago, Bain & Company worldwide managing partner Manny Maceda considered the company’s mission statement. It read: Our mission is to help our clients create such high levels of economic value that together we set new standards of excellence in our respective industries. Metaphorical red pen in hand, he drew a single line, cutting out the word “economic.” 

“Most of us grew up in a world where the original purpose of a corporation was to meet the needs of your shareholders, and that’s not true anymore,” he told a crowd at the 2021 Presidents Summit in Copenhagen. “A corporation needs to serve the needs of its customers, its employees, its ecosystem, its community.”

It’s the kind of warmer, more inclusive, more thoughtful corporate stance that’s essential in today’s talent market: According to a recent Indeed insights report, 79% of businesses say it has been difficult to find workers in the past one to two months. 

Bain, a global management consulting firm, has upheld its reputation as a good place to work for the past decade, landing in the top slot of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work rankings in 2021, and having consistently ranked in the top one or two slots almost every year since 2009. 

That’s important because how a company is perceived matters — not only to prospective employees, but current ones. According to 2021 Glassdoor insights, 50% of candidates won’t work for a company with a bad reputation, and 92% of the current workforce say they’d change jobs to go to a company with an “excellent” reputation.

Bain as an Employer Branding Leader 

Indeed categorizes an employer’s branding journey — how an organization cultivates company culture and then presents its value to prospective employees through marketing, social media, career websites, job postings and other external communications — into four stages: Starters, Developers, Growers and Leaders. (And those categories come with their own financial implications: A strong employer brand can reduce the cost per hire by as much as 50%, and a negative reputation can cost a company as much as 10% more per hire.)

Employers in the Starter phase have undefined employer brands. “It’s typical to see stale job descriptions or non-mobile friendly application processes when companies are in this first phase,” says Taylor Meadows, Glassdoor’s head strategist for employee voice and employer brand. 

Leaders like Bain, by contrast, project their image in everything they do. They live their values, have seamless branding across platforms, and are a distinct employer in the minds of job seekers.

So, for example, Bain’s Glassdoor page has videos of current staffers describing what it’s like to work there — they highlight generous parental leave policies, employee affinity groups and a “down to earth culture.” A deeper dive reveals video of staffers explaining the job interview process and generally describing a company that is a supportive, inclusive place to work. 

Because, as Maceda notes, he wants Bain to be a good place to work. “In the world we are in today, we know culture matters,” he said at the summit. “We know companies are actually searching for talent. We know talent is searching for purpose, for meaning. If you have a winning culture that can attract and retain people, that’s a source of competitive advantage.”

To that end, Bain also refreshed and updated its operating principles, last codified 30 years ago, to now include the statements: “Diverse teams, one Bain,” and “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail.” 

What do those principles look like in practice? For one thing, Bain publishes its own diversity and inclusion numbers split by race, gender, LGBTQ and veteran status. And diversity can even extend to office design, as a recent Business Insider report noted: “Instead of dividing the office by departments or rank, each bay of cubicles contains a mix of consultants, managers and partners. The shakeup is meant to reflect the company’s ‘one team’ attitude, which values all opinions regardless of rank or role.” (Oh, and Bainies definitely don’t let other Bainies fail, a culture of support that extends to running a colleague’s forgotten passport to the airport for them.)

Happy employees will feel encouraged in their roles and also communicate their good experiences with job seekers — which is key because employee voice is considered three times more credible than a CEO’s messaging. “When employees are happy and feel connected to the company’s mission, product or service, ratings will increase and customers will be happier too,” Meadows says. They’re also more likely to stay in their roles.

And that’s not just about making people happy for the sake of it. As Maceda put it: “Being able to attract, develop, and retain people is going to be the single most important factor in whether we are going to succeed as corporations in the years to come.”