Prominent CEOs are standing up against racism, and the country is taking notice. Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. This support has reinforced a powerful idea: that a company’s values can influence communities and the nation.
I’d like to address my fellow CEOs, and issue a Call to Action: examine your core values and engage your workforce. This is important stuff. Your company values matter in a new and exciting way: they’ve become a key component of your company’s capital. It’s an opportunity to expand awareness of what your organization stands for. Especially now, core values are essential to who you are and what you do. Your identity in the marketplace takes on new meaning.
Ask Questions and Listen
There’s power in what you stand for. CEOs, I urge you to do some soul-searching. Open up the conversation. Get people talking up and down your organization. Ask questions that can lead to growing your core values – and LISTEN to the feedback from your employees. Let your people know that you really want to hear from them. This simple exercise taps into the intellectual wealth of your workforce, and can provide you with guidance on your company’s identity.
Here are some basic questions to get the conversation started:
- What are the core ethics that you want your employees and coworkers to embrace?
- What do we want our company culture to look like? What would it feel like in the office, what would you see people doing and what would you hear them saying?
- How do we want to be perceived by our communities? What roles might we play in community leadership?
- What are some examples of outreach and service that we can provide?
- What other questions should we be asking that might be relevant to our business, and to our place in the community?
The goal is to have these conversations throughout your organization. Small teams, large teams, departments and divisions, company-wide meetings: it’s all fair game.
Be Proactive. Every company is different, and the process of discovery will lead you in your own unique direction. Take the lead in finding out what that direction is. Start the conversations and keep them going.