As the world around us changes and evolves, so must the organisations we work in. We have certainly had to adapt to an incredible amount of change in the past year alone.
A good place to start when addressing and updating company culture – to assess if your culture is still fit for purpose – are your company values. These are a set of guiding principles that facilitates teamwork and steers every employee towards a common business goal. A business without a set of values is akin to a ship without a rudder.
As a business owner or leader, have you paid much attention to your company values lately? It’s easy to lose sight of your values, and therefore your culture – especially if you’re concentrating on keeping your business afloat.
Here are three factors affecting values and culture that we believe drive organisational success.
Inclusion is more than a buzzword; it is a vital component within an organisation for everyone to feel psychologically safe, to have a sense of belonging, and to bring fresh ideas and innovation into the workplace. This is not a point of view that is unfounded. There are several studies that support the fact that organisations with greater inclusion also have greater business performance.
The path to conscious, intersectional inclusion begins with awkward conversations and real work. Gathering meaningful data and providing a platform for everyone to have their say are two ways to get started towards meaningful inclusion.
Along with inclusion and a sense of belonging, it is important for all employees to feel like they are growing and developing in their roles. Training and development play a vital part within an organisation, facilitating innovation and increases motivation, productivity and staff retention.
Climate change is a very real threat, and the time is now for all organisations to get serious about sustainability.
Sustainability is also a key aspect of ESG metrics. Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is a benchmark for company operations that both socially conscious consumers and investors use to evaluate the values and objectives of a business, as well as how seriously those values and objectives are taken. We all have a collective responsibility to be mindful about where we buy from, and if the companies we buy from are doing their best to be environmentally friendly.
In procurement, it is becoming more and more common for potential suppliers to show their sustainability credentials; this includes having mission statements and policies in place, as well as declaring full transparency in how sustainable your business operations are. This reduces the temptation for sustainability to merely be a box-ticking exercise, instead creating meaningful and sustainable impact.
We are not naïve – we do realise that businesses start as a way of creating income for its owners. However, businesses are usually borne out of an idea that extends beyond pure profit-making. Maybe it’s a product or service that had never been seen before; maybe you do something better than your competitors; maybe you’re offering more value than what your competitors offer; maybe your offering solves a common problem your clients have.
As the world evolves, and as companies grow and evolve, it can be very easy to lose sight of why you started a business in the first place. And with new technologies and ways to working, now may be a good time to reframe your purpose, so that it serves your business well into the future.
Purpose will naturally merge the People and Planet aspects, as noted above, and add into it the wider context of social impact. Again, social impact is becoming a more important requirement for procurement; for example, asking for meaningful evidence that your organisation is making a positive impact in the local community.
Walking the Talk
So, now you’ve updated your values to make them more relevant… Now comes the ongoing task of living your values as a business. Not only does this galvanise the direction your business is going in, but also it shows to the outside world that your business operates with trust and integrity.
Having company values does the job of holding you accountable for your actions as a business. Remember that social media is always listening out for slip-ups and actions that go against what you, as a business, stand for. The same goes for publicly lending support to a cause; if it’s part of your values to demonstrate support to such causes, then what actions are you taking beyond loud public statements? Because if it’s purely performative for social clout, then you will be called out on it very quickly. Company values go way beyond flowery statements. They are the building blocks on which your business is built.
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