Why do corporate values matter?

5 minutes
Josh Serlin

By Josh Serlin

Why do corporate values matter?

We can learn a great deal about businesses by taking a look at their corporate values, and seeing how well the business matches up. Publicly stating corporate values is a big part of managing your reputation and your relationship with your stakeholders, but you can’t just grab six positive words out of a dictionary and stick them on the wall – your staff and your customers will see through that straight away.

What are ‘values’?

Our values define the way we act. That’s the same for individuals as it is for business. If you, as an individual, value fairness, hard work, fun and family, for example, that will influence the way you live your everyday life.

The same is true for organisations. A set of agreed values will guide how the company behaves, acts or responds in any given situation. In theory, the whole focus of the way you make money could change – as we saw with many businesses at the start of the pandemic – but your values will remain the same, so your people and your customers know exactly who they are dealing with.

Some examples

Organisations of all sizes use corporate values to set out what stakeholders can expect from them.

John Lewis has a set of five values that were created by its Partners – the people who work for the business. The company says that these values reflect its commitment to go ‘above and beyond for each other and our customers’.

  • DO RIGHT:  We act with integrity and use our judgement to do the right thing.
  • ALL OR NOTHING:  We put everything we have into everything we do.
  • GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE:  We put more in, so everyone gets more out.
  • BE YOURSELF. ALWAYS:  We’re quirky, proud and at our best when we are free to be ourselves.
  • WE NOT ME:  When we work together anything is possible.
The BBC has a set of values for staff, which it says ‘… guide our day-to-day decisions and the way we behave’.
  • Trust is the foundation of the BBC. We’re independent, impartial and honest
  • We put audiences at the heart of everything we do
  • We respect each other and celebrate our diversity
  • We take pride in delivering quality and value for money
  • Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation
  • We’re one BBC. Great things happen when we work together
McKinsey & Company is one of the world’s leading consultancies. It’s stated values are designed to ensure it reaches ‘the highest professional standards’.
  • Put client interests ahead of the firm’s
  • Maintain high standards and conditions for client service
  • Observe high ethical standards
  • Preserve client confidences
  • Maintain an independent perspective
  • Manage client and firm resources cost-effectively
There are some common factors here – and they are the things that businesses know matter most to their stakeholders: trust, respect, working together. These principles should guide the way that every individual works. Importantly, they are also critical to candidates who are looking for a place to work that shares their own values.

Corporate values as a hiring hook

Increasingly, candidates are driving the recruitment process. At the moment, of course, talk is about flexible working – something that is higher up candidates’ wish lists than ever, and which can price good companies out of the market instantly if they don’t offer it.

Similarly, candidates are now voting with their feet when it comes to the attitudes and values that an organisation holds. The more transparent you are about your culture and values – and the more candidates can see that your work reflects those values – the more likely they are to apply and accept roles. Companies without any value statements, or where it’s clear that those values are lip-service rather than embedded in the culture, could be taking themselves out of the market as far as the best candidates are concerned.

Being able to state your corporate values on your job advert, or point towards them in interview questions also helps you to attract the people who are going to be a best fit for your business. They give you a great framework to assess suitability in terms of attitude and behaviours and so can form a very useful part of your candidate assessment from the very beginning of the process.

Get in touch today to discuss how we can shape your values to attract candidates.