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Values-Driven Growth and Businesses as Responsible Global Citizens

Businesses that have rethought their strategies with their purpose and values at the core are enjoying important payoffs. Growth plans built around purpose and values result in more motivated employees, better company performance and more loyal customers.

17 April 2023 • 4 min read

Organizations have a chance like no other to rethink their strategies. The business environment, so different since the pandemic, offers new and interesting opportunities.

But, of course, the assumptions and principles that drove results in the pre-pandemic era cannot be relied upon now. Acting responsibly, and using purpose and values as guiding stars, is now arguably more important than financial success (certainly, more important than profitability at the expense of everything else).

Customers are four times more likely to buy from businesses with a strong purpose.

As EY put it in a recent article, in order to create long-term value, organizations must have a “clear and shared” understanding of their purpose, and formulate their growth strategies around it. “Businesses that have refocused their purpose have experienced some important payoffs. Purpose-driven businesses have employees who are more engaged, committed and motivated. Research has shown that businesses that both define and act with purpose outperform their peers by 5-7%. This also provides businesses with an opportunity to differentiate their products, as customers are four times more likely to buy from businesses with a strong purpose.”

Define and communicate your values

To be a values-driven business, you must first define your core values and communicate them clearly to your stakeholders: your employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community. Your values should guide your decisions and actions, and be reflected in your products, services, and operations.

Workplace culture consulting firm Fearless Culture recommend the following to craft effective company values:

  • Lead with your purpose statement (the impact you want to have, beyond commercial success),
  • Keep your values unique (but also meaningful – choose the values that best capture how you want your employees to behave),
  • Make values easy to understand and remember (aim for 5),
  • Remember that values must cost you (a purpose that doesn’t cost is not worth pursuing; the same applies to your company values – they must force you to make choices),
  • Update your values over time (evolve your values as your company grows).

Incorporate sustainability into your strategy

Environmental and social sustainability should be integrated into your business strategy, from supply chain management to product design and marketing. This includes reducing your carbon footprint, minimizing waste, and supporting social causes that align with your values.

Green innovation and sustainable business models are critical for businesses to become more environmentally responsible and contribute to a more sustainable future. Green innovation refers to the development and implementation of new products, services, and processes that reduce environmental impact, while sustainable business models are those that integrate environmental and social considerations into the core of their operations.

For example, with a circular economy model, waste is eliminated and resource efficiency is maximized. Materials are kept in use for as long as possible, through methods such as recycling and repurposing. Companies that adopt circular economy principles can reduce their environmental impact while also creating new revenue streams.

Companies can also innovate by investing in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Not only does this help to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, but it can also provide long-term cost savings – not to mention enhance brand reputation with employees and customers alike.

Foster a culture of ethics and transparency

A values-driven business must prioritize ethics and transparency. This includes being honest and open about your operations and finances, as well as treating employees and stakeholders with respect and fairness. Your business should have clear policies and procedures in place to prevent unethical behavior and ensure compliance with regulations.

According to the founder and president of WebFX, one of the US’s Best Places to Work three years in a row, William Craig, transparency can do a lot for your company: from happier employees and a flatter company hierarchy to a more organic online presence – and of course, increased profitability.

Engage with stakeholders

Building strong relationships with stakeholders is essential for responsible global citizenship. This includes listening to feedback from customers, engaging with local communities, and collaborating with suppliers and partners to achieve common goals. Your business should actively seek out opportunities to make a positive impact and contribute to the wellbeing of society.

Building strong relationships with stakeholders is essential for responsible global citizenship. Seek out opportunities to make a positive impact and contribute to the wellbeing of society.

As the World Economic Forum put it: “Strong, inclusive societies are the foundation for thriving economies, and all stakeholders must play a role in helping to make this ‘new economy’ a reality. This is not an easy process, nor will it be accomplished quickly – indeed, there are some individuals who may never get on board. But we have a unique and fleeting moment in time now to create such a vision, and that starts with building a collective global citizenship and civic responsibility mindset. Let’s not waste it – there’s too much to lose and so much to gain.”

Measure and report your impact

To track your progress and hold yourself accountable, you should measure and report your impact on social and environmental issues. This includes setting targets and benchmarks, collecting data on key performance indicators, and reporting on your progress in a transparent and accessible way.

With the recent wave of new reporting requirements, articles such as this from EcoOnline are exploring what this will mean for organizations, and for the teams who will have to meet new standards: “The new reporting requirements are significant – the key message is to start now! Recent studies have proven that substantial gaps exist within corporate sustainability reporting ..with only half of companies disclosing plans to achieve net-zero emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and the EU’s climate goals ..To stand a chance of complying with the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) regulations, companies must start by closing existing gaps now.”

By prioritizing values-driven growth and becoming a responsible global citizen, businesses can not only improve their reputation and attract customers, but also contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world. Is there any excuse not to?

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