A Relatively Modest Investment In A Strong Set Of Corporate Values Can Help A Business To Improve Its Productivity and Profitability.

The premise of this article is that mission statements are no longer enough to define a company’s identity and purpose. Increasingly, companies are issuing corporate values which define the corporate culture, modis operandi and core principles of the company. Done well, they cast employees and the company in the best possible light, internally and externally; done badly, they can have the reverse effect. This article emphasizes the need for these corporate values to be clear, succinct and memorable. It gives readers examples of several company efforts — Vodafone, the BBC, and Reed Business Information to name a few. The process is shown as it moves from senior management meetings, where the values are decided upon, to the workforce, where feedback and ideas are sought.

Good communication is seen as essential to success, and dissemination and reinforcement through intranet, workshops, presentations and handbooks are discussed. Step-by-step company involvement and assessment are seen as essential if these values are to underpin the company’s corporate culture.

The author refers to a recent three year study of prominent employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which found that most financially successful companies had a clear vision and set of values that were deeply embedded in their culture and operations. The article notes that companies need to do more than write out their values — they need to back them up and embed them in everything their people do. Managers must lead by example to show company commitment and companies must test their people against dilemmas that have to do with company values. The author also refers to a recently published research report by the Institute of Business Ethics, “Does Business Ethics Pay?” which confirms the link between clear values and high performance. The article ends by providing Internet addresses where readers can get full text copies of the two research reports cited.

Source: Roisin Woolnough, Financial Management (UK); July-August, 2003

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