Skip to the main content.
capterra rating
The Joy of Enterprise Management Incentives
Read our free guide to the UK's most tax-efficient share scheme.
Get the guide

4 min read

What does a progressive company look like?

What does a progressive company look like?

Startups are all about progress. From that very first moment when an idea transforms into a business plan and your goal begins to take shape in the real world, startups are all about making something out of nothing. 

But is it possible to be driven by progress and yet not truly progressive?

Some very successful companies are living proof that this is true. And although we may admire their success from an entrepreneurial perspective, we can also acknowledge areas for improvement - and things you don’t want to emulate in your own company. 

So, in this article, we’ll explore the traits of a truly progressive company and how you can put them into practice.

What does it mean to be progressive?

A progressive company is, at the core, characterised by openness and innovation. The word ‘progressive’ gets thrown a lot and is often used inaccurately, but what does it really mean?

When it comes to being a progressive company, it’s all about your attitude. So, what does that look like in practice?

For starters, a progressive company is one which values evolution, communication, and a free exchange of ideas. 

These are critical characteristics for any company that wants to succeed - because a company that values those things is likely to set trends rather than follow them.

They’re also more likely to treat their employees as valuable assets to be respected and appreciated. That's something that Breathe HR kindly recognised us for last year when they named Vestd one of the UK's Culture Leaders.

And if something isn’t working, whether it’s in their business model or their company culture, progressive companies are likely to identify those issues and eradicate them so they can evolve. 

So, what does a progressive company look like in reality? What blueprints can future companies follow? Let’s take a look at three awesome examples.

Progressive companies in the world today

1. Zoom

We know Zoom as a household name but it’s also a wonderful place to work because it’s driven by progressive values.

Zoom values its employees so much that it places tremendous emphasis on work-life balance and emotional wellbeing. So much so that Zoom was named one of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in 2021 - an award based entirely on employee feedback.

At Zoom, employees are encouraged to bring the people they love to work so their friends and family can be actively involved in their work lives and get to know the team.

By including employees’ loved ones in this manner, they’re sending a clear message: that they value their employees as people and they care about their mental, social, and emotional health.

Making an active effort to include employees’ loved ones says, “We know you have a life outside of work and we want you to feel supported.”

That’s a pretty powerful - and progressive - message to send!

2. Patagonia

Patagonia is well-known as a company that cares about the environment but they also care about their employees. From giving their employees time off to go surfing (yes, really!) to instituting a three-day weekend, Patagonia is a truly awesome employer. 

They’re also good at practising what they preach when it comes to authenticity.

Patagonia doesn’t just say they care about their environment; they put their money where their mouth is by creating an exceptionally eco-friendly company culture. 

They offer two months of paid time off for employees to volunteer with an environmental organisation.

And in September this year, Patagonia's founder Yvon Chouinard announced that all the company’s profits will go towards tackling the climate crisis: 

“As of now, Earth is our only shareholder. ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet’.”

By encouraging employees to connect with nature, spend time with their families, and do their part to save the planet, Patagonia sets a fantastic example for progressive companies.

3. HubSpot

Communication is one of HubSpot’s core values and that’s apparent as soon as you walk through the door. That’s because, at HubSpot, none of the offices have doors. Yes, you really read that right - HubSpot took all the doors off their offices. 

Although it might seem unconventional, it’s a practical way to demonstrate their commitment to communication and an open exchange of ideas. And make it clear that everyone has equal access to each other. 

By having a “no door policy,” they’re saying that employees are encouraged to communicate with each other across departments without any of the limits or barriers that might otherwise hold us back.

They encourage everybody no matter their role in the company to openly share ideas and opinions during meetings too.

On the health and wellbeing front, Hubspot introduced a Global Week of Rest as part of a plan to prevent burnout, with the view that it's easier for staff to enjoy their time off if their colleagues have that time too.

How to be a progressive company

Whether you’re the founder of a new startup or you work with an established company, it’s never too late to implement progressive practices.

And (although it wouldn’t hurt!) you don’t have to follow the exact examples of the companies on this list; you can develop your own ideas, and come up with things that are unique to you. 

But as you can see from these examples, progressive companies value communication, authenticity, kindness, and transparency.

And they put those values into action by investing in their employees’ wellbeing, practising what they preach, and creating a culture of growth and innovation. 

When you really think about it, those practices are all keys to running a successful business. So, shouldn’t every company be a progressive company? 

Do you know what else is progressive? Giving employees a slice of the pie. Why? While it's pretty common in the US, the same can't be said for the UK and Europe, despite the fact that it makes a lot of sense.

Studies show that employees with even a small number of shares in a business are more determined to help that business succeed. We call it the Ownership Effect

We believe that everybody who contributes to a company's success deserves to share in that success.

Be a trailblazer! Book a free consultation with an equity consultant to see how easily you could share equity with your team.

Demystifying investment docs: What investors expect to see

Demystifying investment docs: What investors expect to see

Unless you've got a Scrooge McDuck money pit you can dive into and draw out a couple of million at will, your business will likely need to raise some...

Read More
FounderMetrics: Simon Paine

FounderMetrics: Simon Paine

Joining Ifty Nasir on the latest episode of FounderMetrics is Simon Paine, the trailblazer behind the Rebel Business School.

Read More
A startup's guide to equity compensation

A startup's guide to equity compensation

Working in a startup is like running a marathon with countless hurdles. Getting a piece of the pie motivates potential candidates to join this race...

Read More