How to build a globally equitable organization

Kelsey Sullivan

When you work at a global company, it can be hard to connect your teams when they sit around the world. And when your teams aren’t globally aligned, it can be even more difficult to make sure you’re connecting with consumers the right way. 

We recently held a webinar on this topic with Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi and author of Take Your Company Global, who shared some practical steps on how to align your teams across borders and the benefits that can come from it.

The webinar was filled with so many tangible tips, we couldn’t possibly cover it all in one article (so keep an eye out for our second installation on how to begin to centralize these efforts). In this article we’re going to cover why you need global equity and how to start building a globally equitable organization. 

Now let’s dive in.

Watch the webinar

Catch the full recording of our webinar "Global and local: Balance of power or powerful everywhere?"

Why you need global equity

Being a global organization is less about creating a balance of power and more about driving an equitable experience for people in different parts of the world. 

Looking back, when thinking about building a company, the old approach would simply be: Let's just take the company global!

But along the way, as you enter new markets at different stages, the customer and employee experience would not always be equitable.

We are all striving to ensure that our employees are engaged and included, and feel that they belong. When we're creating relationships with our customers and consumers, we want to make sure that they feel like ​​part of our brand, part of our business, that they're coming along with us, and that it's a true relationship.

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

So how do you ensure that both employees and customers alike are engaged and included? That’s where the new way of thinking comes in, which is to create a globally equitable organization (GEO).  

Creating a GOE means that experiences across the organization will be different, but that’s because local cultures and legislation is different. This also includes where your brand stands across the globe, as it will naturally be in a different place in a new market versus where you started in your domestic market. 

While not all experiences will be the same across the board, these nuances are important because that's the only way that customers and employees can get equitable value when they’re engaging with the company as a brand or as their employer.

“It’s important that we aspire to a higher level goal than just having a global business. Today, because everything is digital, anybody can have a global business the minute you have a website…But that doesn't necessarily mean that you're offering an equitable experience of value to all of those customers in different parts of the world.”

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

So if you’re already a global brand, where do you start? If you’re on your way to becoming a global organization, what should you make sure to put in place? Let’s dive into the five key areas you need to cover in order to create a successful GEO. 

How to build a globally equitable organization

In order to build a globally equitable organization (GEO), you need to:

  1. Understand the GLOBE principles

  2. Work towards creating a global-first culture

  3. Begin amplifying local voices 

  4. Start hiring for international knowledge

  5. Think of multi-market as the new multinational

Here’s a breakdown of each of these areas.

1. The Globe principles

The GLOBE principles were created to help businesses strive for that higher aspirational level of what it means to be a global organization, which is made up of five parts: 

  1. Geo-agnostic

  2. Linguistically inclusive

  3. Operationalized

  4. Balanced

  5. Empathetic

Here’s a look at what each of these points involve as well as questions to ask to make sure you’re aligned.


This means ensuring you are not operating from a place of bias toward one geography. In practice this can be difficult to do, because sometimes we don't even realize that we are being biased toward our local views and our culture. 

Nataly shared a recent example of when she was challenged: 

“I just was working on something about trends in Super Bowl ads and how we might see some of those play out in the summer because we have the summer Olympics. Well, that's not a geo-agnostic way of looking at things, because the southern hemisphere would call those winter Olympics!” 

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

It's all about where you are in the world and being aware that other places might see things differently and bringing that into the business to encourage local inclusion. 

🤔 Ask yourself: Is this project designed around the needs of customers in just one market, or are we being inclusive of multiple geographies?

Check out our Super Bowl ads predictions

Linguistically inclusive

This means you’re thinking about different languages, but also how people use language. 

That doesn't mean simply translating an English ad into Spanish, for example. It can mean creating a video option and an audio option, because multimedia performs better for certain demographics compared to others. 

🤔 Ask yourself: Have we considered the different language, literacy, and communication needs of the customers in the local markets we serve?


This means you have baked this new way of thinking into how your business makes budgets, how you resource and how you plan. 

🤔 Ask yourself:  Have we accounted for local differences with our plans, so we can prevent friction for local teams when it’s time to execute?


“Don’t seek a balance of power. Seek to empower teams and customers everywhere.”

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

Nataly explains that having balance does mean being powerful everywhere. But it's also about how you are thinking about investments. 

For example, how are you investing in these different markets? And what is the intention there? Because you'll never have a situation where every market is exactly the same. 

🤔 Ask yourself: Are resources, especially funding and headcount, aligned to support our priority markets?


This one is pretty straightforward. It involves finding strategies and processes to enable empathy across your organization.

🤔 Ask yourself: Have we talked with customers and leaders of local markets to ensure we’re taking their needs into consideration?

2. Creating a global-first culture

Moving on to the next area, what does it mean to create a global-first culture? 

A global-first culture is all about thinking globally and executing locally. But a big challenge here is inherent biases, similar to what we covered in the geo-agnostic principle.

The most common biases that are blockers to having a global first culture are familiarity bias and proximity bias. A lot of times these biases are included in campaigns that originate from a business’s headquarters, because they're so focused on what's familiar to them and their own local market.

Nataly shares that the only way to combat this is to make global first a company-wide business priority. Only then, when it's a priority, is it top of mind for people. 

3. Amplifying local voices

So how do you speak with customers and leaders of local markets to get a pulse on their needs? There are several ways to approach this. 

“A lot of times, voices of teams and employees that are isolated to one part of the world that don't have the same level of connectedness as your headquarters. They need amplification and sponsorship.“

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

One key way to make sure their voices are heard is to have internal champions to enable them, and offer them support. Ask yourself: How can we support them further? Who else could we use as an advocate? Sometimes it’s as simple as asking an executive (or anyone in your organization) who already has knowledge about a specific market. 

Resources and budgets are also very important here, but a lot of times the core problem is visibility. In large companies it's hard to get mind share and visibility, which is why there tend to be so many silos.

To solve this, Nataly recommends creating a customer satisfaction survey or a global employee survey to measure how connected your customers and employees are to your brand. This will help you get a better understanding and visibility into where your brand stands and enable you to pinpoint major gaps, differences by market and where you need to make a greater impact.

4. Hiring for international knowledge

Hiring for international knowledge is an important way to boost a global-first culture.

“I believe that when we hire people with diverse backgrounds, they make everything better. And I think that applies here as well when you're building a global company, to hire people who have experience in different markets.”

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

These are often force multipliers in your business. Why? Because hiring people with international knowledge and a diverse culture means that you aren’t surrounding yourself with others who share the same proximity or cultural bias. 

Building that diversity into your team and hiring intentionally for people who have global experience is a great way to begin to shift how your company thinks about global initiatives.

5. Remember: Multi-market is the new multinational

…And if you get people with more diverse global experience, you infuse your whole company with multi-market experience. 

Why does that matter? Because today, with digitization, we are more connected than ever before. 

For example, let’s say you’re launching an ad locally, but that ad goes viral. It can start to be seen in other markets and in other countries. And that’s why it’s so important to think about multi-market versus multinational. 

“When we think of multinationals, we think of larger, older companies that have an established presence with offices in multiple countries. I like to think now, we're not so attached to offices. A lot of things are more digital. So multi-market is how to think about launching campaigns now.” 

- Nataly Kelly, CMO at Zappi

As the world continues to become more globally connected, these multi-market launches are likely going to become the norm. That’s why it's more important than ever to connect those local teams to each other.

Wrapping up

There are many actions to take and processes to put in place when shifting how a business operates — especially on a global scale. We hope this article provides valuable insight into the benefits of having a globally equitable organization and some initial steps you can take to get there.

For those of you who did not attend the webinar, “Global & local: Balance of power or powerful everywhere?” you can watch it in full below.

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