27% of staff believe in the organisation’s values

don’t start by asking your team what important

There is much talk these days about ethics, values, and corporate social responsibility – and rightly so. These are increasingly important subjects.

This is the eighth of 10 THOUGHTS addressing ethics, values, and CSR in marketing.
A recent survey in the United States found that only 27% of employees actually believe in the core values of the business they work for.

These findings might suggest to some and reinforce to others a view that staff should be consulted more in the definition of the values of the business. If either is the case for you, then you are wrong.
Staff should NOT be consulted in defining the values of the business. Staff have NO role in defining the values of your business and their views should not even be taken into account

That staff are not engaged with the values of the business, says just one thing to me – these businesses are employing the wrong people. Staff should no be consulted in defining the brand – but their values and ethical standards should be established before they are employed – and they should only be employed if their values and ethics are consistent with those of the business.

The values of the business and the ethical standards of that business should be defined in a ‘negotiation’ between the customers of the business and the owners of the business – or their board level representatives. The best core values are those that the owners of the business and the customers of the business share. Where the owners and the customers share values and ethical standards – research has found significantly higher conversion rates, repeat business rates and referral rates.

Owners are happiest when they are working in a manner that is true to their values and their behaviour is far more authentic. Customers feel better buying from a business that shares their values and ethical standards.

Don’t ask you staff what you values should be – ask you customers and adopt those values that you and your customers have in common. Then you can ask staff about their values, but only as a way of determining who should and should not work in your business, and in so doing be a flag bearer for those values and ethical standards.

What is more until you do this, you will only be ever paying lip service to the notion of being customer focused.

It is essential to not only identify your customers as precisely as possible, but also understand them as precisely as possible with a view to understanding what is important to them – what they hold dear and what they want in terms of the values and ethics of the businesses they engage with

It is also important to remember that values within your customer base change over time, as might yours, and staying relevant will involve staying close to your customer over the long term, perhaps through a brand community or perhaps through more traditional research methods.

Being relevant is an important start. Staying relevant is no less important.


Develop your core values and ethical standards in a ‘negotiation’ with you customers – making your stated core values those values you share.

Do the research to understand what the values and ethical expectations of your customers are and then monitor them over time, along with your progress in terms of delivering on them.

A connection based on values will deliver higher conversions, increased repeat business and higher referrals.


Ashton, Nielsen, Business Dictionary, Business Bank of Texas, Digital Marketing Resource Centre, Smart Company, Forbes, American Management Association, Zenzi, Investopedia, Accounting Web, Reliable Plant, Fond, Gallup, Mintel

MORE THOUGHTS – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

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