If you’ve been following us for a while now, you’ll know that as an organisation we’ve been on a bit of a values journey recently, firstly with discovering our own organisational values, and then mapping out exactly what those values mean in terms of the way they shape how we do business as an agency and how our learnings around values more broadly are shaping the work that we do for our clients and our community.
A set of company values provides a benchmark for how employees are expected to conduct themselves when representing the business [and on a broader personal level too], and give a clear insight into the company’s goals, and how each role supports those values. They’re the benchmark for a way to work, in general, certainly, but can also be used to guide decision making through unprecedented or difficult situations [like a pandemic, for example.]
We’ve noticed a societal shift recently too – businesses all over the world are shouting out their values on social media but here’s a a big difference between the companies who are doing it as part of a trend, and the ones that are backing those statements up with action to create tangible and meaningful change- after all, a set of values with no action is meaningless lip service- and consumers are wising up.
A company with hollow values falls on two distinct swords – cynicism amongst team members can poison the cultural well internally, but also [as the data is beginning to show] failure to do business according to company values wastes a great opportunity for connection with customers. A distinctive set of values has the power to differentiate a business from the competition by clarifying its identity, and giving it both the freedom and the power to stand for the things it deems to be important. You might be surprised by some of the stats, so we’ve made a little round-up
Based on a recent survey conducted by Accenture research:
- 63% of consumers said they preferred to buy from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own personal values, and avoid businesses with whom they have a conflict.
- 62% want companies to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues that they care about the most.
- 65% of respondents based purchase decisions on the words, values and actions of company leaders.
- 47% stopped doing business with a company in response to a moment of brand disappointment.
Some other factors considered likely to influence purchasing decisions were:
- using good quality ingredients
- treating employees well
- reducing plastics and improving the environment
- supply chain transparency
Here’s the kicker, though – in addition to an uptick in employee satisfaction and retention, purpose-led brands experienced a brand valuation increase of MORE THAN DOUBLE the median growth rate, [175% compared to 86%] over the last 12 years, proving that company values done right will translate massively to conversions value too.
Historically, brands have opted for neutrality on key issues so as not to rock the boat, but recently [finally] we’ve seen a trend of brands leaning into their core values in a purposeful and authentic way to throw their support behind key issues – think Nike with Colin Kaepernick, Ben and Jerry’s with their manifesto on dismantling white supremacy, and Lego with donating major $ to social justice organisations supporting Black children [and removing both police and White House Lego sets from circulation].
For us, as an agency? Our clear expression of our company values [and our desire to adhere closely to them] has resulted in some key changes to the way we work, and the people we work with. In the past we’ve had clients with values misalignments that have affected the working relationship, so having clarity around what we project to the world [and what we expect to receive in return] has been profound in terms of shaping the feel of our current portfolio – businesses and individuals with whom our values align for respectful, collaborative relationships that – surprise surprise – are yielding them awesome results.