B Corporation

Green Canopy’s 2018 Impact Report | Regenerating Communities & Environments

“It’s sometimes easy to forget that all the small and seemingly insignificant tasks that we perform daily adds up to big change. Reading the Impact Report reminds me that we’re doing good work and adhering to our mission.”  - Green Canopy Employee

We know you believe transforming the built environment toward more sustainable and healthy housing can help ensure a better future. Thank you for being our partner!

Thriving Communities & Healthy Environments | Green Canopy’s 2017 Impact Report

Thriving Communities & Healthy Environments | Green Canopy’s 2017 Impact Report

The physical beauty of our Pacific Northwest region combined with a booming tech industry continues to draw people to our high-growth cities of Seattle and Portland. Daily, we feel and see this change with more traffic on the roads, more cranes on the skyline, homeless encampments in what seems like every nook and cranny, and an overflow of cars at our favorite trailheads.

Green Canopy launched in 2009 to combat and lessen the negative impacts of climate change and resource scarcity through in-city homebuilding. Nearly 10 years later, we find ourselves in the epicenter of rapid change. As a mission-driven Certified B Corp Company, Green Canopy inherently feels a responsibility to lean in further to the challenges we are experiencing in our high-growth cities: resource scarcity and global warming, urban sprawl, and housing crisis of affordability and access.

Next Economy Now

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Green Canopy CEO, Aaron Fairchild, was recently featured on the Next Economy Now podcast by Lift Economy in the episode "Aaron Fairchild: Rooting Into Perennial Impact Under One Green Canopy." 

The podcast "highlights the leaders who are taking a regenerative, bio-regional, democratic, transparent, and whole-systems approach to using business as a force for good." Green Canopy is continually inspired by Lift Economy's work to benefit all life.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Aaron about how Green Canopy is influencing the existing construction paradigm while deliberately, methodically and incrementally addressing some of society’s most difficult challenges as we collectively work to create a more resilient and regenerative future.

Aaron offers Green Canopy’s past, present and future outlook, thoughts on culture and management, the phases of the company's growth and the importance of inclusive building for a more enriching world.

For more information on Green Canopy's approach to the current construction industry, listen to "Money is a Means to an End: Scaling Your Business with Aaron Fairchild" by The Construction Leading Edge.

Rockefeller Foundation Publishes Case Study on Green Canopy and the Company's Theory of Change

By Susan Fairchild | Director, Investor Relations and Impact | Green Canopy Homes

The Rockefeller Foundation strives to “promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world” by scaling transformative innovations, creating unlikely partnerships spanning sectors, and taking risks others cannot. To catalyze cross-sector pollinization from the social sector to impact investing, the Rockefeller Foundation recently released a case study on Green Canopy’s theory of change - “Putting Impact at the Center of Impact Investing: A Case Study of how Green Canopy Designed its Impact Thesis.”

"The case study provides an illuminating example of how investors can adapt theory of change to serve their impact management needs. By demonstrating the relevance and transferability of this tool for articulating, measuring, and managing impact, the hope is that this case study can contribute to strengthening other investors’ approaches, in turn contributing to building the evidence base for the “impact” of impact investments."

We encourage impact investors and impact enterprises to similarly consider integrating this tool into their organizations.  You can read more about Green Canopy’s theory of change and send any questions to susan@greencanopy.com.

Green Canopy's Theory of Change

Green Canopy's Theory of Change

By Susan Fairchild | Director of Investor Relations & Impact | Green Canopy

Those who visit the Green Canopy Headquarters will find, in our entryway, a reminder handed down by our CEO’s father. It’s a framed quote by the baseball legend Yogi Berra, reading— “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it.”

A Profile of a Movement Maker | Alicia Darvall

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by Aaron Fairchild

Imagine gathering over 200 business leaders in the middle of a massive continent, where humans have lived for tens of thousands of years. The purpose? To advance a nascent movement, using business as a force for good to positively change the world. The location of this gathering? The very birthplace of our oldest instruments. There — in the deep, red earth — in the heart of an arid land, water reaches to the surface forming natural springs. The combination of water and music has charged the region with deep communal and rhythmic energy. It is hard to imagine a better place to come together. That place is Alice Springs, Australia — the location of the first ever, 2017 Australian B Corps Champions Retreat.
 
B Corporations are for-profit companies, certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Behind the Australian B Corps Champions Retreat was a team with a leader — a visionary, validator, an organizer. A master engineer, who understands the elements needed to launch a movement from the ground and elevate it in the uplifting thermals.
 
I had the chance to find this person and talk with her a number of weeks ago and have been dying to write about her ever since. Alicia Darvall was the first Executive Director of B Lab Australia & New Zealand. When she was hired by the Small Giants team in 2014 to head up B Lab Australia, there were 13 certified B Corps in the country. After three short years, the Australian & New Zealand B Corps community has grown to over 230 certified companies. Alicia came to B Lab from, not surprisingly, a background in working with entrepreneurs and organizing festivals. She has over 15-years’ experience in senior roles at fast-growing, high-profile businesses and organizations, such as Moonlight CinemaMelbourne Fringe Festival and Melbourne Fashion Festival. As ED for Australia & New Zealand B Lab, Alicia provided strategic support to entrepreneurs; coached them to build on their values, engage within their community and stakeholders, and measure their impact.

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When I asked Alicia how she was able to grow the Australian B Corps Community so rapidly, her response was simply, “I followed flow without inserting my personal agenda.” Every movement needs its first follower, and Alicia is the ideal first follower. She is creatively inspired and wise enough to remove her ego in the effort to help others thrive. It is no wonder why B Lab elevated her. At the top of 2018, Alicia handed off the Australia & New Zealand B Lab reins to the talented Andrea De Almeida, and accepted the role of Executive Director of Global Partners. Her stated mission at B Lab Global is, “to nurture a creative manner required to build a movement that lasts.” Wow… To do this, she identifies and works with emerging B Lab regions to help them channel their unique cultural flow of energy to create movement and community.
 
In addition to helping new regions progress, Alicia works with B Lab’s network of networks, the B Lab Global Governance Council. In this effort, she helps the Council follow energy flows required to grow and develop, and then sustain their efforts through implementing earned income strategies.
 
After meeting with Alicia, I walked along the sidewalk in a shower of rain. I didn’t try and dodge the raindrops — it had been hot and humid for days and the rain refreshed my skin and soul. I couldn’t help but make the connection between the refreshing rain and our conversation. Alicia is a rare and rejuvenating leader who is tuned into the energy of others and understands that by following flow and not adding ego, amazing things happen. As a member of the B Corps community, Green Canopy is grateful that she is a leader in our network, helping to make our work lasting and transformative. Thanks Alicia!

Happy & Empowered

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It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to create a home for wanderers who cannot bow before the traditions of a single dwelling and a fenced yard. Who look beyond marriage and blood to gather brothers and sisters bound by more than custom and umbilical cords. Generous minds and loving hearts, laughing eyes and simple tastes who know that serenity at sunrise and peace at sunset are worth more than the treasuries of kings and IRA security. It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to gather together kindred spirits. Who look beyond what is and was to understand what can be, who know that love and compassion, joy and peace are our birthright stolen by a culture's madness and to band together the manipulations of frightened lives, wise minds, and bruised hearts, daring souls and brave spirits who know that love is worth the stars and friendship does not hide it's private anxieties behind sophistication and steel symbols. It's time to clothe my dreams in reality, to move beyond jealousy and possession, isolation and imprisonment. To confront boredom and loneliness, sadness and lovelessness, to make known my secret needs and reveal my hidden yearnings, to risk self exposure as the only path to final freedom, to surround myself with the energy flowing from the earth's core, the passion of rivers and resilience of trees, and thus to clothe my dreams in reality! —James Kavanaugh | It's Time

Green Canopy is feeling happy and empowered from Empower Happy Hour this month— thankful for all presenters, sponsors and stakeholders who came together with us to celebrate Sightline Institute: a local, independent think-tank, who envisions an economy and a way of life that is environmentally sound, economically vibrant and socially just. Here are some highlights from the presenting impact organizations:

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Keynote | Ryan Honeyman | Lift Economy
Ryan gave a synopsis of his background including his start in psychology and criminal justice and a passion for "reforming the criminal justice system and prison reform." While reading some of his brother's Environmental Studies books, Ryan grew excited by the idea of using business as a force for positive change.

Lift Economy began by "wanting to help existing companies scale their impact." Ryan explains... "We started to realize that while it's great to do consulting work with companies, many companies are categorically excluded from access to capital— and especially women and people of color."

The Force for Good Fund created by Lift Economy, is a fund that is investing in women and people of color-owned enterprises. "How can we create an economy that works for the benefit of all life if we don't put more women and people of color in charge?"

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Petra Franklin | Dwehl
"The Dwehl founders came together to solve a problem that has a massive impact upon America's future, home ownership... and in the process we realized this was a prosperous business opportunity, that was better for all stakeholders...

In America, there are more people renting today than anytime in the history of the US census. And, as it turns out, renting is not working in their favor. The average net worth of a renter is $5,000 whereas the average net worth of a homeowner is $225,000. In addition, renters can expect to spend 30–50% of their income on rent, whereas homeowners can expect to spend 15–25% of their income on their monthly payment. The GenX and Millennial generation have come of home-buying age. They have jobs and they pay rent. In fact, they pay $535 Billion dollars in rent annually and Pew Research says that 72% would prefer to buy a house than continue renting, but they do not qualify for traditional home financing...

We see this as an opportune time to reinvent residential home ownership and we want to ensure this solution is better for all the stakeholders. By verifying three years of rental history and using that number as the basis for a home ownership payment, we are able to offer ownership of highly desirable homes with no downpayment and 5% financing.  Equity starts accruing immediately!

The mission of Dwehl is to grow the net worth of our customers but what we realized was Dwehl also presented us with an extraordinary opportunity to upgrade America’s housing stock to net zero efficiency!”  

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Kevin Bayuk | Force for Good Fund
"Lift Economy has been working with 100s of different social enterprises, mostly small-scale enterprises, trying to reinvent the economy— organizations that are trying to provide needed goods and services, but do it in a way that are non-compromising in terms of their potential social and environmental impact. These types of enterprises are chronically underfunded, under-resourced." 

Kevin went on to explain how Lift Economy saw a gap that needed to be filled, and thus created the Force for Good Fund as a way to fund B Corps who are seeking to model a more diverse and  inclusive ecomomy. 

"It's not traditional to be able to invest in the type of enterprises that we're prioritizing, wth the type of fund that we have."

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Bec Chapin | NODE
"We're building radically-sustainable homes and we're delivering them through an effortless customer service process. And we're doing it because of climate change."

"75% of the buildings that we're going to be using in 2050 don't exist today. So right now, we're building the stock of that... and we have the chance to shape the future."

"We think this is the answer... It's buildings that give back more to the environment than they take. Buildings that become ecosystem services, not just extractions. They're regenerative."

"A company that benefits everyone is the only company we can see ourselves being a part of."

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Aaron Fairchild | Green Canopy & Cedar Fund
"Imagine with me, if you will, a future where all of the energy needs in all of our homes, come from the sun...  where net zero energy homes are the norm. Imagine a future where issues of sustainability and poverty are inextricably linked."

"We have this impression that deep green, net zero energy homes are available only to the upper middle class and to those that can afford them. And these same homes (that are actually more affordable to own and operate through the energy savings) are not available to those that have the greatest need in our society...

Imagine a world where these good homes are affordable. Imagine a future with me where our wild lands are not fragmented by development... but rather our cities, through thoughtful design and density are the key to preserving our wild lands for all of life to thrive...

A future where we're not building regulatory walls that separate us— zoning and regulatory land use walls that create neighborhoods that are exclusive to only those that can afford to move in and have access to those amenities... 

A future of love and empathy for one another because we can see ourselves in the other. Because we live together. We're co-mingled and intermingled in diversity and by the way, we need that diversity of thought, history, perspective to be applied to finding solutions for that future that we envision... a future where our communities are resilient and vibrant because they're inclusive.

Imagine with me.. if you will.. where the hard-earned income that you generate through your labor, that you invest in your children and their future,  does not work at crosspurposes to that future that you envision. Imagine a future in which your hard-earned capital could accelerate and activate the future we envision and earn profits...

The Cedar Fund was designed to address these four issues: resource scarcity and global warming, the housing crisis of access and affordability, urban sprawl, and quality impact investment opportunities not reliant on direct government subsidies."

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Bettina von Hagen | EFM
"Everything we need to do to combat climate change... is right in front of us...

It's not just about the climate. It's about social equity, it's about distribution of wealth, it's about how we relate to each other...

The good news is that climate change could be the stimulus, not just for addressing the climate, but for addressing the fundamental ills of society that we know and that we recognize...

Strategies that we employ in forests, changing the way that we manage them, can double the carbon storers while at the same time yielding this broad range of benefits...

We have the most amazing solar factory in the world, right here in our forests. The needles and leaves are solar receptors. The trunks and the branches are the batteries. These batteries last forever... for hundreds of years."

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Alan Durning | Sightline Institute
Alan, the executive director at Sightline, touched on how the housing crisis today is a housing crisis of "cruel musical chairs... The only way to stop the rise of prices and of rents, displacing those with the fewest resources, is to provide enough chairs. We need more houses of all shapes and sizes...

The question is not, 'can we end cruel musical chairs?' The question is can we do it without sprawling... well, you can." Alan goes on to show how Tokyo, the biggest city in the world and more than 10 times the size of Seattle, has accomplished this by building more dwellings in the city. Vienna was another example cited by Alan.

"In every city where housing is affordable, the lesson is exactly the same for us in Seattle— you have to build enough housing for everyone who wants to be here."

All photos by Reagan Ashley and videos by Kyle Porter of Porterworks

Patience and Urgency Combined | SOCAP17 and the BCorp Champions Retreat

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The last two weeks has been a whirlwind of intentional conversations with like-minded, social purpose organizations. The B-Corps Champions Retreat and the following week of SOCAP17 were both intense conferences of shared themes and desired outcomes. A couple things linger in my mind from these social impact conferences:


  • The short distance the social impact investment community has traveled to date and where it is on the arc of its lifecycle trajectory.

  • The emphasis on personal improvement.


So how far have we come? My first year at SOCAP was 2009. That was the same year when I first learned about B-Corps companies at the Sustainable Industries Journal forum from Stephanie Ryan of B-Lab. It was directly after SOCAP09, in November of 2009, that Green Canopy bought its first project and our work to build the company began full-tilt and relentless. The first years of Green Canopy were about survival and getting the organization right. Today we have the capacity to expand the scope of our community beyond the Pacific Northwest region. In 2013, we certified as a B-Corps, but my first B-Corps retreat was two weeks ago. This was followed up by SOCAP17, my first year back since 2009. In the eight-year span between first learning about B-Corps companies and SOCAP, and today, this community has grown significantly and become a legitimate investing force and philosophical approach.
 
When looking at the lifespan of contemporary impact investing in the SOCAP17 booklet, the movement is younger than many of us, just turning 40 years old. If we are investing for this generation but also for generations to come, then we are in the infancy of a multigenerational movement determined to continue to grow, learn and transform global society and economy. We are on the early side of the impact investment lifespan for sure. We have a long way to go and the urgency of the issues we are addressing with our labor and capital create impatience on behalf of just about everyone in this community. Throughout both conferences it felt like most people were understandably feeling the impatience of our youthful movement. Like we just want to be older and more mature than our short 40-years will allow.
 
And then when we couple our youthful impatience with the urgency our work demands, impatience compounds. Which, perhaps, is the reason so many conversations at both conferences discussed the importance of personal, emotional, and spiritual growth in the practice of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. If the antidote to anger is patience, then the lack of patience leads to anger. The importance of love in our work requires patience, yet patience decidedly lacks urgency. Perhaps in order to productively hold this dichotomy through the transition to a new paradigm, a focused determination that allows for grace and patience when organizing with a sense of urgency requires each of us to develop increased mindfulness within swirling storms.

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Celebrating our collective “wins” and taking stock of our successes happened throughout both conferences as well, and from my perspective there is a lot to celebrate in the progress we have collectively made in just the last eight years. When I first learned about B-Corps companies in 2009, there were 205 certified B-Corps, in 28 states and in 54 industries. Today there are 2,310 certified B-Corps, in 50 countries and in 130 industries. SOCAP has tripled in size and become an international affair. It is drawing investment firms representing more capital than most people seemed to think possible just a few years ago. Bringing values into our investment analysis continues to seem obvious once seen; like suddenly being able to see a number hidden within the page of little colored dots. The more people’s eyes identify that opportunities to make money work for positive change are hidden in plain sight, the more obvious it becomes that when we direct our resource toward changing the world for better, the world indeed gets incrementally better.

I am entirely grateful to be part of this community and movement, and I look forward to continuing with the dual edge of graceful patience and urgency, toward building and investing in the future we believe in.

"Transparency, accountability are no longer fringe ... We are seeing a surge of leaders who want to have a platform to influence the greater good." -Bart Houlahan, B Corporation | SOCAP17

Ends or Means?

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Contributed by Andy Wolverton, CFO

Green Canopy gladly spends significant time and resources to nurture our corporate culture; a culture centered on our Values. These shared values reveal themselves in the norms, mantras, behaviors, and language of the company; they are the bedrock of culture. Rather than let our values develop organically by default or be established top-down, every member of the Green Canopy Team participates in the process of establishing our shared Values from the ground up.

At the beginning of every year the Company holds what is called our Mission, Vision, Values Retreat. The Team at Green Canopy has created an innovative approach to building and managing Culture that creates alignment throughout the Company. At this Retreat the Team re-calibrates to our purpose, Mission, and the direction that the Team is driving the Company, Vision. The remaining and majority of the Retreat is spent focusing on our foundation; qualifying our shared set of Values. The sum total of the Values equates to a culture of integrity and constant improvement.

Once the Team has reviewed, revised and renewed our Values for another year, we roll into the first of two annual Cultural Reviews. These Cultural Reviews allow the Team to review each other and reflect on how each member has upheld - or better yet, how they can improve - their practice of and commitment to the shared Values collectively defined at the Retreat. The Company’s approach to managing and measuring culture ensures Team buy-in.

After all, it has been said many times before, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

But do the Values really matter in the day-to-day minutia of completing tasks and improving the bottom line? 

Productivity is more valuable than fit and the ends justify the means, right? In fact, Green Canopy may have agreed with these statements years ago. We, for many years, proudly labeled ourselves as a Results Oriented Work Environment, or ROWE, a methodology popularized by Daniel Pink, among others.  

While the benefits of being a ROWE are many and well-documented (and we agree!), we have come to understand being a ROWE is only half the equation. How those results are achieved is more important than the outcome. Why? We believe it is because of our focus on the prioritization of long-term goalsover short-term gains.

Since our Values define Green Canopy’s collective how, we prioritize Values Alignment during our hiring process and developed the basic quadrant diagram (below) for grouping our Team and new applicants.

The diagram includes two axes, Values Alignment and Abilities, each with positive and negative option, making four unique quadrants. The green-shaded row at the top shows the two quadrants Green Canopy prioritizes in our Team and new hires; with both including positive Values Alignment. We would rather work to improve the skills of a well-intentioned coworker with a shared set of values than a highly productive employee who is ambivalent to Green Canopy’s shared Values. More time, energy and resources are spent working with a highly skilled yet misaligned employee than developing an under-performing Teammate who strives toward self-improvement along the Values.

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When looking at the Values vs. Abilities diagram, the obvious priority would be to only hire those who fit within the top right box. They are the ideal and perfect Teammates, right?

However, in practice we recognize that the top right box is the area to strive toward and is generally an impossible space to permanently occupy. All of our Teammates have areas of their work in which they are masters of their craft 

Our aim is to live within the top row, and the goal is to continuously move toward mastery in all aspects of our jobs. That has us all in practice (1)  bouncing back and forth between Lacking Ability and Mastery within the row of Values Aligned as we learn new lessons in our life and in our work. Personal and professional growth and development require the understanding that we are all imperfect. However, the Green Canopy Team understands there is great potential for those who enjoy shared values.
 
(1) As a quick side note on work as Practice rather than a Performance, we highly recommend this HBR Ideacast (Ideacast #523) released May 5, 2016, with Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey.

Corporate Values & Corporate Culture: is it Legit, or is it lip Service?

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Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy Inc.

According to 2013 research published by Luigi Guiso, Paolo Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, The Value of Corporate Culture, 85% of S&P 500 companies have at least one section of their website dedicated to -- what they call -- “corporate culture” i.e. principals and values that should inform the behavior of the firm’s employees. Values are important to promote and advertise on corporate websites and reports, because it is imperative for companies to manage their image. External stakeholders expect companies to have thought about their values and publicly acknowledge them. The act of creating and promoting values can help assure external and internal stakeholders that the company has a higher degree of integrity and is guided to conduct their business in a way that is consistent with and based on their stated values. 

Start with Intention

I recently spoke with the CEO of a publicly traded bank who was extremely proud of his employees for going through the process to create and document their values. They were, “developed by a group of really passionate employees that love this organization and only want the best for the bank, our employees and our customers.” Their guiding philosophy relating to their values are stated as, “Our Core Values encourage us to act in a manner that “wows” others and provide us with the opportunity to guide our actions that allow us to become who we want to be. We take pride in our Core Values and strive to live them each day.” This is an example that provides insight into great intentions and proactive leadership. However, when I asked him, “What does the bank do to ‘strive to live them each day’?” he floundered. Wasn’t it enough to go through the process to create their values and then promote them both externally and internally?

Learn from Employee Perception

This is a great place to start. But organizations that want to leverage the power of corporate culture to increase productivity and returns need to do more. 

The Guiso, et al. study also uncovered some additional, interesting facts regarding advertised values. Notably, the value most commonly exploited by the S&P 500 companies was “Innovation” followed by “Integrity” and “Respect”. When the researchers attempted “…to correlate the frequency and prominence of these values to measures of short and long term performance,” they “...fail[ed] to find any significant correlation.” Basically they found that advertised values are not a great indicator of corporate and employee performance. Perhaps that is because it is easy to state your values, so everyone does. 

Another point to note in the research is the concept of perceived value. The study found that if the employees of the company perceive management to have a high level of integrity, there was a positive correlation, and good outcomes in terms of higher productivity, profitability, and the ability of the company to attract talent. In other words it isn’t enough to create and promote values, they had to be perceived and held within the employee base of the organization.

Living Values

So how do we know if a company’s stated values are not just something that they claim to be true, but are indeed perceived and held by the employees of the company? 

A few clues to consider in your evaluation process: 

  1. If the company has its values listed internally or in an orientation packet, but they do not advertise their stated values on their website, this would suggest a note of caution. Again, according to the research paper, 15% of all S&P 500 companies do not advertise values. If you don’t talk about your values or share them with outside stakeholders then it is hard to be held accountable to them. It may also indicate that their management wants to be authentic and doesn’t feel the need to advertise values, however it certainly begs inspection.

  2. Does the firm, large or small, value their Human Resources Department or efforts. In small, start-up firms many times HR is valued lower than marketing. The commitment of the leadership to focus on their number ONE asset, their human resources, is indicative of their values. In larger companies, is the head of HR part of the Executive Suite? In other words how high up are Human Resources valued? If the head of HR is nowhere near the top of the company, this would indicate a gap and that the leadership of the firm does not have a high attribution to corporate values. 

  3. Inquire how developed their internal recruiting processes are. If employees don’t want to recommend their friends to work at the company… something may be off.

  4. Can an employee who has been at the company around one year tell you the values of the company? If the company is living their values, it should be easy and even exciting to share with others the shared sets of values at the firm.

  5. Can managers and employees give examples of when others made decisions that aligned with the values of the firm? Clearly if no one can, I would question if their values are lip service.

  6. Lastly, ask the vendors and customers of the firm what makes the company different from others in same field. If examples of what makes the firm different line up with their stated values, you can assume that their values are not just lip service and that the employee on the front lines is living the firm’s values. 


I am sure you can think of many more “sniff tests”. The fact that anyone can truth-test stated values should give employees, investors, and customers alike a leg up in identifying if a company is truly anchored by its values (which correlates to performance and profitability) or if their stated values are just the lip service of corporate collateral created in the back halls of the Marketing Department.