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World Values Day – 19th October

World Values Day – 19th October

Co-founder Rachel Thornton asks: what better day to reflect on a recent globe-trotting values-fuelled adventure than today, World Values Day?

Today, organisations, community groups, schools and individuals world-wide are being encouraged to celebrate, reflect and, hopefully, do something differently as a result of their values.

‘Why bother?’ That’s a question I’ve been asked in the boardroom more than once in my 20-odd year career as a communicator. So, what’s the value of values?

Research published by PwC (one of the corporate sponsors of World Values Day) asserts that companies with distinctive and aligned cultures are two times more successful in the execution of their goals, and 1.8 times more likely to show higher profitability and growth.

Business stakeholders, be they customers, shareholders or community partners, increasingly expect organisations to stand for something. And CEOs are taking note. A 2016 survey of CEOs last year found that 75% of them were changing their values or code of conduct to respond to stakeholder expectations. An impressive 96% of CEOs said they felt it important for leaders to explain how values influence business decisions. Powerful stuff.

The folks behind World Values Day are galvanising Values Challenges to help organisations to define and make change happen through values-based activity. That resonated with me as my summer has been spent delivering workshops in advance of a global client’s new values launch.

In the wake of some major organisational change, the leadership team kicked off a process to elicit a new set of Values. They initially involved 80 colleagues to help crystalise potential values that would deliver their strategy in a fast-changing market and drive the right behaviours from their 2000 global employees.

scarlettabbott’s role, when the senior team had arrived at four potential values, was to involve just over 10% of their global workforce in 18 highly participative workshops road-testing the four foundling values.

In two-hour workshops across the US, Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East, we examined and explored the words, their meaning and cultural nuances, ranked how strong the business was currently and defined the behaviours that would bring them to life.

The workshop outputs fuelled a values ratification process, resulting in some changes and refinements, and fed the framework that will sit beneath the new values across performance management, recruitment and various people and change processes.

This client’s commitment to a highly involving and engaging approach has inspired me. Meeting their employees, hearing them talk pragmatically about their business, seeing their palpable enthusiasm to tackle issues and continually improve was invigorating.

But what struck me most… out of nearly 300 people world-wide… not one said ‘why bother?’

People get it. Shared values, working together within a connected and authentic behavioural code or culture resonates at a fundamental human level. Employees expect their organisations to hold them accountable not just on ‘what they do’, but ‘how they do it’. And they expect exactly the same back from their employers.

As an internal communicator, and a human in an increasingly crazy and unpredictable political world, that makes me heartened for our collective future.

Happy World Values Day!