Businesses have long been assumed neutral parties in society. They seemed to exist only to provide goods and services without offering much of an opinion or taking any kind of political or moral stand on issues outside of its own interests. But the reality is, businesses are run by and offer their services to people. And all people have values: a set of beliefs that they live by, and by which (now more than ever) they run their business.
Within a generation, we have seen some companies spearheaded by charismatic and driven leaders obtain massive success. These leaders not only cast a vision of what their company intends to accomplish but also what values the company will adhere to while doing it. Think Steve Jobs and Apple. Think Elon Musk and Tesla. Think Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
Today, corporate values have taken a front seat in the everyday operations of business. Publications like Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review regularly discuss issues like company culture and values. Modern consumers and other businesses in the market for services show a deeper concern about the values held by the companies they choose to do business with. Customers want to be aligned with brands that share their core values. And consumers don’t have any problems calling out their beloved companies if they see any incongruence.
A recent Forbes article about the toy maker, Lego shows off a case in point. Essentially, one customer inadvertently started a social media movement by holding Lego’s feet to the proverbial fire for advertising in a publication that seems to promote politically divisive and socially regressive opinions. The author of the #nolego and #stopfundinghate hashtag movement was quoted as saying, “I didn’t see the connection between why a progressive company like Lego would use a method of distribution like the Daily Mail.” His plea to other customers to stop buying Lego toys quickly gained momentum. Lego quickly responded by pulling their advertising out of the offending publication.
On one hand, this situation can be viewed as a company protecting their bottom line by caving into customer demand. After all, in today’s social media environment, it would be unwise to ignore such public complaints that quickly gain attention globally. But on the other hand, the situation could be viewed as the company being challenged to live up to their stated value system.
At Blytheco, we know from personal experience that it is challenging to be a values-driven business. At some point, you must make hard choices which could have a direct impact on revenue; you may need to walk away from opportunities, say goodbye to employees or fire a client. But on the upside, there are lots of benefits to being a values-driven organization.
For one, a company’s values (and it’s “cousin,” culture) is often a marketplace differentiator and helps them stand out from the competition. A company’s values is a guideline for leaders to follow when determining which customers and vendors to work with or which new team members to hire. Another important benefit of being a values-driven company is you have a framework for how you’re going to do the work that you do and what your customers will experience in the process. Finally, a company’s values shows the world what it holds most important.
In order to be a values-driven company, your values must be clearly defined (written), as well as very well communicated to team members, clients, and prospects. The final key is to ensure your values are well assimilated into your culture and every aspect of how you do business.
With the all the positive benefits (happier clients, engaged employees and positive bottom line), it’s important that companies today invest in becoming a values-driven business. The journey isn’t easy and sometimes you may be publically called out like Lego was. But in the end, it is worth it.
If your company needs help transitioning your culture so that you can establish and live your values, we can partner with you. Give us a call at 949-583-9500 x2500 to get started.