In a business, culture and values are – at their simplest – what that company stands for and how it conducts itself. These are issues that continue to loom large in the public eye: from horsemeat to Libor, high profile industry scandals have led many to question what really underpins the behaviour of companies.
Some of the best businesses place a huge emphasis on the importance of culture and values because doing it right can mean:
Closing the gap between shareholder and society
Many are concerned about the potential disconnect between the short-term interests of shareholders and those of wider society for the long-term. For example, while 70% agree that profit is a good thing, just as many believe employees or customers lose when profits are made. Establishing the right set of principles from out the outset can help companies to strike the right balance between short and long term returns and to take into account the needs and demands of a wider group of stakeholders. Find out more – read what Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive of Barclays thinks about the evolving role of large business in society post the financial crisis.
Winning over consumers
No doubt about it, consumer expectations are growing – 55% of people agree that expectations on business to do the right thing have risen in the last ten years. People are increasingly prepared to make purchasing decisions based on the wider value of a product, for example whether it was ethically sourced or if the packaging can be recycled. When customers see that a firm and its employees behave in a way that lives up to expectations and delivers against its values, there’s a great opportunity for firms to win market share from companies that fall short. As supermarket Sainsbury’s put it, “our values make us different” – a strong value statement is a chance for firms to set themselves apart from other brands and create a USP. Find out more – read what Euan Venters, Commercial Director, Fairtrade Foundation has to say about a culture of ethical sourcing.
Driving positive change
From youth unemployment to climate change, obesity to our ageing population, together we face major challenges not just in our communities but also a country, and as a planet. Business has the resource, scale and expertise to be able to make a real difference, but the majority (67%) of CEOs themselves do not believe that business is doing enough to address global challenges. Embedding wider social goals into value statements is a way to convincingly put them at the heart of what a business does and achieve real change – securing the future for all of us, business included. Find out more – read what Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President UK and Ireland, Veolia has to say about whether business is leaving generations compromised or better equipped to meet future challenges.
Why do you think culture and values matter in business? How can companies ensure they are put into practice?
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