• Rabbi Ariel Tal

Changing a Company's Culture with Modesty

Companies and organizations all want to build a winning culture to ensure success. There are many ways to create a successful culture, but there are few methods that can effect change in a negative culture and turn it around. One of those methods is through implementing modesty in the workplace. This may seem unconnected at first glance, but it has a lasting and powerful effect in the long term.

First, let’s define modesty. Modesty in Hebrew is “Tzniyut”, which literally means to cover up. The source for being modest is in the Prophet Micha(Micha 6:8)

הִגִּ֥יד לְךָ֛ אָדָ֖ם מַה־טּ֑וֹב וּמָֽה־יְהוָ֞ה דּוֹרֵ֣שׁ מִמְּךָ֗ כִּ֣י אִם־עֲשׂ֤וֹת מִשְׁפָּט֙ וְאַ֣הֲבַת חֶ֔סֶד וְהַצְנֵ֥עַ לֶ֖כֶת עִם־אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ “

It has been told to you, O man, what is good, And what HaShem requires of you: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk modestly with your G-d.

Modesty is first and foremost an attribute that we are instructed to aspire to internally. The manifestation of modesty is in how we behave, conduct our business and also dress. The Torah is filled with examples of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs acting modestly, to various degrees. Possibly the most extreme, is when Ya’akov marries Leah, thinking she is Rachel (After being deceived by Lavan, who switched his two daughters on Rachel’s wedding night with Ya’akov), and in the morning discovers that she is Leah and not Rachel. Other examples of a lesser degree are when Rivka first encounters Yitzchak and covers herself with a scarf and falls off the camel she is riding on.

Modesty can be used as a tool to change people’s mindset, create a culture of respect and elevate the level of how employees see themselves in their company. Take for example the case of the NBA in 2004. The commissioner at the time, the late David Stern z”l, was faced with a