The Importance of Corporate Values
I recently read an article on the employee performance website 7Geese (www.7geese.com). The article contained the best summary of company Core Values I have ever seen. At GRAND RAPIDS METROLOGY, we have met and established values that we deemed as important to the successful operation of our business. We strive to live these values each day in our business:
Since 1922, our mission has been the same. We strive to be the most reliable, flexible, consistent, ethical and innovative supplier of measurement technology and services available in our marketplace.
• Our success is based on a set of values passed on through five generations of family management.
• We are LOYAL to our customers, employees and suppliers. Mutual loyalty ensures success through long-term relationships and respect.
• ETHICS, INTEGRITY and a dedication to BUSINESS EXCELLENCE guide every decision.
• We take PRIDE in what we do, who we are and in our strong heritage provides a road map for our business.
• We create OPPORTUNITY for our employees by providing a stable and encouraging work environment, which creates a team-driven, customer-based culture.
• INNOVATION and the ability to adapt and be flexible keep us on the cusp of technological advancements within the scope of our abilities.
• Providing employment and opportunities while serving our customers’ needs and creating PROFIT are only two ways in which we serve our COMMUNITY. We encourage our employees and management staff to be good and generous citizens.
• It’s important to us to love our business and have FUN! It comes from our overall value system, our success and our anticipation of future success.
Businesses do not stay in business for 94 years through 5 generations of family management without displaying a strong value system to customers, suppliers and employees. Values such as commitment, innovation, integrity, ownership and safety had to be present throughout our history even if they weren’t written down and openly and regularly discussed. They were there, in our owners, managers, employees and suppliers. If they weren’t, we would not be talking about a 5 generation, 94 year history!
As social responsibility has become more a part of our national conversation, new values have been discussed and incorporated into the fabric of many companies. The newer values include accountability, community, diversity and empowerment. The conversation has rightfully expanded from the values that make your business successful and now include values that make for personal satisfaction, happiness and social justice. Companies have found that if employees and customers have similar values and if they see companies behaving ethically because it’s the right thing to do, those customers and employees have a tendency to be loyal, respectful and appreciated. People want a connection. They want to see that companies are about more than the creation of revenue and profit.
Recently, we made a decision to stop doing business with a customer using animals to perform research. Our technicians were uncomfortable with the treatment of the animals they witnessed. Many of our employees have strong feelings regarding animal welfare. Our shareholders have a long history of involvement in animal welfare organizations. Continuing to do work for this customer was inconsistent with our values and therefore we stopped. Writing values down is pointless unless you live them!
Several years ago, the CEO of one of our large customers wrote an OpEd piece that was published in many newspapers statewide. At the time, the Michigan legislature was considering a law that would have negatively impacted the LGBT community in certain employment practices. Despite the business risks and the potential criticism from employees and customers, he wrote and published the editorial. He said he did so because sometimes “you just have to do and say what’s right”! I agree.
These past few days, if you’ve watched the news at all, you know what is going on in Indiana. I cannot sit back and be silent on this issue. The Indiana legislature passed a law and the Governor signed it that they would have us believe is some sort of religious discrimination cure. The law essentially says that a business shall not be held liable if, because of their religious beliefs, they decide to deny products or service to a customer who displays some trait or belief that allegedly offends their religion. There is no possible purpose to this law other than to discriminate against gays and lesbians. If someone says differently, I say Hogwash! What the powers of the State of Indiana forgot about were the unintended consequences of their actions. May businesses in Indiana now refuse to do business with Jewish customers because they have some different beliefs? As a Christian, may I refuse to do business with Atheists? Discrimination is wrong, always. If it’s based on religion, gender, ethnicity, race or sexual preference, it is wrong! To attempt to legislate a wrong is embarrassing and takes us back more than 100 years.
But wait, you chose to not do business with an entity which you decided was cruel to animals. Yes we did! What is different? Easy, I am not using religion as a shield to commit a wrong. If we start using religion to cover our sins and transgressions, we are no better than people who commit unspeakable atrocities around the world using their religion as a shield.
Ours is a civilized society which values individuality diversity of beliefs, races, genders, etc. We are the leading example of a civilization where people live freely and our communities prosper because of our beliefs and freedoms. Let’s not go back to a time when we were not all treated the same. Let’s embrace diversity, encourage it and value it. To refuse to do so moves us backward.