Wouldn’t it be great in these days of gloom to find something bright, a ray of sunshine like a philosopher’s stone to bring businesses together in everlasting win-win situations?
Well, according to Business In The Community (BiTC) there is such a thing: a company’s statement of corporate values.
“A Purpose Beyond Profit”
At the beginning of the month BiTC released a briefing paper entitled “The whys and hows of corporate values”.
At its heart is a list of the benefits a company can reap from having a good, strong set of corporate values.
The actions required boil down to stakeholder engagement. Employees, customers, suppliers and clients are all much more likely to be loyal to a company which has a clear ethos and understands its position in the wider world.
The paper also has one of the best definitions of corporate values I’ve come across:
It is not a mission statement that describes what task the company aims to fulfil. Neither is it a set of commercial objectives. …. Corporate values are about what the company stands for and how its employees behave. They are about framing a role for the business that gives it a purpose beyond profit. (my emphasis)
Implementing Corporate Values
The briefing paper also criticises those companies where “the corporate value statement simply exists as a poster on the chairman’s wall”. Corporate values have to be expanded beyond a chairman’s comprehension. They must be disseminated and understood far and wide.
One of the best places to do this is on a company website. Here a statement on corporate values should sit prominently alongside products or financial performance and be easily accessible.
The content also needs to explain how the value is put into practice and demonstrate that implementation. “We will do right by our customers” could be a great value or a sop those “annoying greenies”. Practical demonstrations and in depth descriptions will make the difference.
Sharing Corporate Values
The content should also link to other stakeholders with a similar value.
Stakeholder engagement can be incredibly powerful when it creates a sense of community. Acknowledging other members of your community will help draw stakeholders in: clients, consumers and suppliers alike.
This is the principle of social networking: people cluster together around shared goals, beliefs and values.
The same principle applies to businesses: but you have to state and stick by your values to make it work. It is this which makes well communicated corporate values a business’ philosophers’ stone.
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