Ethical businesses are greedy. At least when it comes to values. You hear more and more about values-driven enterprises / management / brands / marketing these days, most often in relation to niceness.
It’s great that there’s a growing desire to contribute responsibly to a wider group of stakeholders, but it is not fair for ethical businesses to monopolise the whole Values thing.
Everyone has values, and these values strongly drive their behaviour. Just as creativity is a huge value and motivator for some, moderation is what drives others. You cannot say that a company driven by power, money and image has no values: it has very clear values, the ones just mentioned. Profit maximisation is just as much a value as world peace, it’s just not as nice.
Perhaps the reason for the values discussion revolving around ethical businesses is that there are some values that people don’t want to acknowledge too publicly. Naturally, these values tend to be the ones that have to do with self-enhancement rather than enhancing the wellbeing of others. There’s no logic in loudly claiming to others that you are looking out only for yourself. If that is the case, it is more typical to keep quiet, or make something up.
So, ethical companies are being too vague in calling themselves “values-led”. All businesses have been driven by a clear set of values, and it is only slowly dawning on us what those values really are.
For me, I’m finding it increasingly useful to be able to clearly and authentically describe my values, and the values of the environment I am a part of. And if there’s a big difference, then my values can help inform my decisions:
- If Inner Harmony is a dominant value, then get out of the environment
- If Honesty is NOT a dominant value, then lie about the difference
- If Obedience is a dominant value, then stop all this values thinking rubbish and get back to doing what I’m told
There’s no escaping values, there’s just escaping acknowledging them.