Corporate Culture

Creating a Mission Statement That Matters

Creating a Mission Statement That Matters

Green Canopy builds homes, relationships, and businesses that help regenerate communities and environments.


GREEN CANOPY IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE A NEW MISSION STATEMENT THAT HAS DEVELOPED FROM MUCH THOUGHT AND COLLABORATION.

“Mission statement” is one of the first terms inside startup guides, marketing courses and business plans. It can feel like fluff on an entrepreneur’s checklist of a million-and-one things to manage — a checklist that also includes terms like revenue and retention rate.

And a mission can become fluff that has little real impact internally or externally. Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy says, “Where intention and attention go, energy flows.” A mission statement helps set intention and attention, ensures stakeholder alignment, guides strategy, and helps differentiate — creating a sustained competitive advantage and supporting the long-term success of an organization. This has been Green Canopy’s process:

Amplify your Impact by Empowering Others

By: Krystal Meiners, Director of Marketing

What are the most impactful personal or business choices I can make to fight climate change? And is it my responsibility to do so?

As Green Canopy gears up for our first Empower Happy Hour of the year – I’ve been thinking about Forterra’s question of the evening. What are the most impactful personal or business choices that I can make to fight climate change? And is it my responsibility to do so? The second part always resounds with a bright, assertive “Yes!” in my mind. However, the other part of this question flutters and lands throughout my workday, across my desk, in and out of meetings; with answers both big and small. What are the most impactful personal or business choices that I can make to fight climate change?

My internal responses tend toward the personal solutions; challenges to buy local, volunteering for park cleanup in my community, reducing my consumption, eating more vegetarian meals, meditating on the power of fresh air, spending more time with my family outdoors connecting to nature. Beyond the personal, though, what are the business solutions that I can lean into to fight climate change?

In our Energy Performance Guarantee Program at Green Canopy, we have the opportunity to influence and incentivize conservation behavior with our homeowners. This guarantee amplifies our impact and empowers our homeowners to be able to live more efficiently and with a smaller carbon footprint than the average Seattle homeowner. We guarantee that each home that we build will perform as it was modeled by our third-party energy audits, or we will reimburse our homeowners the difference.

For the past two years, we have collected energy performance data through this program with surprising results. What we learned was that the majority of our homeowners were not buying into the program, and that the ones that did admitted that they did not understand their building systems well enough to operate their homes efficiently. Nearly two thirds of the claims that were submitted to us were showing overages beyond our 3rd party energy models. The average deviation from all of our claims was a 966kWh overage against the model. While that number is not a lot considering the average Seattle home consumes over 28,000kWh in a year, we still believe that this program is an incredible opportunity to influence, inspire and educate our homeowners. We want this program to be able to drive efficiency in our product in order to create real impact in our fight against climate change.

That is why our team is actively working to improve our process, educate our homeowners, and collect more data in order to achieve greater effectiveness. At the end of the day, we do more than just build homes. We want to live into our mission to inspire resource efficiency. The Energy Performance Guarantee is simply one business solution that we have that empowers our homeowners to live better, more efficiently and closer to the planet that we share. 

Stay tuned for more ideas in our upcoming blog series "Mission Metrics: Case Studies on Impact."

POCKETBOOK POWER; IT'S IN OUR HANDS

A Response from Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

For those of us that are deeply concerned with the current Presidential administration, I thought I would offer acknowledgement in solidarity and a potential response to consider throughout each day as you continue protesting in the streets across America.
 
Trump is a self-professed businessman and has proclaimed that he will create perpetual economic growth throughout his Presidency and beyond, even at the expense of equity and the environment. To which we can, and should respond with a resounding, “No!" Natural limits to growth exists as populations grow and resources diminish. Perpetual economic growth at the expense of equity and the environment simply cannot be sustained, nor should the idea be tolerated as acceptable.
 
For years the “buy local” movement has been a compelling response to the perpetual growth model and well articulated in Wendell Berry’s short book of essays, “In the Presence of Fear." Buying local, and all that it entails, helps to strengthen our local communities and economies as we work to address our environmental and social equity issues in a more sustainable and less consumptive manner.
 
Today we find ourselves confronted with a Presidential administration that is happy to operate as a bull in global and national “china-shops,” rolling back environmental regulations not to mention our constitutional liberties. Given this as the backdrop it is more important than ever to perhaps reconsider our consumption behaviors and retrench to our local establishments and communities. The consumer has the loudest voice in our democracy. If consumers change their behavior, companies take notice, and correspondingly so do politicians.
 
To this, I ask you to send a message to this administration along with me and thoughtfully limit your consumption of global brands, and perhaps in general. Will you join me in more deliberately and critically considering the purchases you intend to make? Can you think about holding off, or reflect on not going out to dinner or away for that vacation? Perhaps consider focusing on local purchases, “stay-cations”, dinners at home with family and friends and making your investments locally.
 
But you may say, “Aaron, buying local and limiting our national consumer trends by perhaps even 5% would certainly cause a recession!” Frankly, is there a better way to send a message to a President who has trumpeted his business and economic acumen? Perhaps there is, however corporate sponsors won’t continue clinging if their numbers go down. Protest with your pocketbook and send an economic message to a business baron and let go of fear of a potential self-induced recession
 
Recessions come and go, and if a recession were indeed to arrive as a result of buying local, perhaps it would be more easily corrected than otherwise. More importantly, a recession caused by conscious consumption puts economic control in the right hands; in your hands, the hands of the people and not corporations or politicians. Send a message and buy locally, invest locally, walk to a friend or neighbor’s house for dinner, take transit, and walks in the dark and beautiful woods instead of heading to the movies.
 
If you ever needed an excuse or a little nudge to buy local and perhaps even less, the excuse sits in the White House and the nudge is constantly viewed on your news push-notifications. Take action throughout your every day. Consider more critically and deliberately as you buy products and consume goods. Mindfully, in the moment, think about buying less, buying local, investing local. Let go of fear and embrace the power of your pocketbook to create change. 

Share an easy, yet meaningful idea as a comment below that may be helpful to others as we all align to living and buying more locally.

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.

The Transformative Power of Frameworks

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What impact could we have if we were all just a bunch of tree huggers united under a green canopy? Our logo is definitely symbolic of the work that we are doing to change the course of climate change - and certainly everyone knows that we have sang our share of kumbaya - but it's the fast, hard data that delivers our projects and helps us work toward improvement at Green Canopy.

Decision making and benchmarking frameworks are integral to Green Canopy’s operations. Our acquisitions team uses a data driven framework and metrics to identify and purchase attractive development properties. Our project managers use a framework for guiding construction related decisions from start to finish. The reporting outputs are used to inform and manage future acquisitions and projects.

These carefully crafted systems support us in driving toward consistent execution and continuous improvements. We learn from the successes and failures of our decisions by establishing baseline metrics and measuring and reporting against them. This ultimately makes Green Canopy a better homebuilder. And importantly, creates a stronger and more resilient company, reduces risk for our debt fund members and builds a more valuable brand for shareholders.

Investors face similar challenges, especially those pursuing positive social and environmental impacts alongside financial performance. Without a guiding framework, impact investors are left to untangle a confusing mix of information and options. An impact framework can be a transformative tool enabling investors to move beyond intuitive guesswork toward more systematic and objective decision making.  

We hope you will join us in attending an event, Impact Investing with Purpose, being hosted by The CAPROCK Group and SNW Asset Management on Tuesday, October 20th, 6 to 8 PM at Seattle Impact HUB. Green Canopy board member Kyle Mylius will moderate a panel exploring the evolution and use of impact investing frameworks and metrics. Panelist Luni Libes, a familiar face to many of you from Fledge and Pinchot University, will offer insights into The Pinchot Impact Index, the subject of Luni’s recently published book. The event will close with a preview of CAPROCK’s iPAR impact investment framework and evaluation platform.

Women's List for the Mountains

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Excerpt from the Washington Women's Cookbook, 1909

1. Sleeping Bag, consisting of three bags - one inside the other.
(1) Waterproof shell, of khaki or rubber or parafined canvas or oiled silk
(2) Double wool blanket bag
(3) Comfort padded with wool bats, the comfort folded and sewed together as a bag.

2. Tramping suit:
(1) Bloomers or knickerbockers
(2) Short skit, knee length, discarded on the hard climbs
(3) Wool waist or jumper
(4) Sweater or heavy coat

3. Three pairs of cotton hose

4. Three pairs of boys' wool socks to wear as the second pair of hose to prevent chafing

5. Mountain boots to the knee with heavy soles, heavy enough for hob-nails and these must be placed in the soles before starting, using 3 1/2 eighths Hungarian nails in the instep as well as in the heels and soles 

Say Hello to Cora! 2902 NE 53rd

It's always fun to research names for our homes. It is one of the identifying features of a Green Canopy Home - and most of our homes are named after women who have made history and who have helped us get to where we are today. I couldn't help but highlight one of our newest acquisitions. The moniker for this home certainly is a story worth being told! Our latest project is Cora - after Dr. Cora Smith Eaton.

Cora was one of Seattle’s leaders in women’s equality during the turn of the century. Additionally – she was the first female secretary of the Mountaineers Club and also the first woman to summit Mt. Olympus (not to mention she summited all 6 of Washington’s major mountains). 

Cora was also a doctor of medicine and was the first woman doctor to practice in North Dakota before moving to Seattle. She was licensed in several states by the end of her career and ran a practice with her husband Dr. Robert A Eaton.

And my favorite anecdote – Cora also helped author the Washington Women’s Cook Book – a PR stunt for the Suffragettes to help get the message of women’s equality to the women who were still stuck in their kitchens – and to help sway men to support women’s right to vote by saying even the Suffragettes can still put a good meal on the table. Brilliant! 

Cora's contribution to the Cook Book consisted of the list above (they have a section on packing food for a hiking trip) and a recipe for (drum roll please...) Tea. Yes - her meaningful, amazing contribution was Tea. The recipe is below - but in her heart of hearts, you can see where Cora's priorities were. She was an adventurer... blazing trails for all of us.

But clearly, none of us can live in the PNW without tea. 

She is one bad ass mademoiselle. Welcome to Green Canopy. 

A Recipe for Tea
In two quarts of fresh water, boiling hard, put a loose cheesecloth bag containing four heaping teaspoons of tea. Cover and let stand by the fire for five minutes, but do not boil. Then remove the bag of tea, as leaving it in will make the tea bitter. Or, if the bag is not convenient, pour the tea off the leaves after it has steeped for five minutes. -Cora Eaton

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Mission, Vision, Values: Part 2

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Contributed by Sam Lai

"It was great sitting next to you in English.  Stay cool over the summer and don't ever change!  xoxoxo"  

Every year, there is a common concern that is voiced by our team members when begin our Mission, Vision, Values review process. If we love our company culture...why would we ever consider changing our values. They are, after all, at the core of how we treat each other.  

"I love working at Green Canopy and I hope we never change!"  

However, when I consider what it means to grow-up, I'm reminded of how thankful my wife is that I've changed since she met me. Angie and I were barely past puberty when we met at the University of Washington. At that time, one of my greatest talents was a smile and my signature wink.  Seriously. The wink was the single greatest strength in my arsenal of babe-wooing skills.  For some reason, the wink doesn't do much for Angie now when I come home to our family of 5. Fortunately, I've grown up just a little bit I've added dish washing to my tool belt. We haven't lost that loving feeling, but we've certainly grown up.  

As for Green Canopy, we've grown up as a company too. We will remain focused on our mission to inspire resource efficiency. And many core values remain the same such as "authentic communication" and being "solutions focused." But how have we grown and changed? Below are some of the ways that are values are evolving at Green Canopy. In our MVV: Part 3 we will look at our final list of Values as well as how we have incorporated our shared values into our employee review process.

What's Changing?

1. "If it ain't broken, break it!"  
We started our company with a commitment to Innovation - While most builders exist only to make profit. Green Canopy exists to fulfill our mission...our profit allows us to continue our mission work.  
We started using the EPS score developed in Portland to baseline our projects' annual modeled energy consumption before most people ever heard of an energy audit. Oops.  I forgot, most people still don't know what it is!  Innovation is already at the core of who we are and we won't forget it. Today we have shifted our focus away from innovation toward "Professional Mastery."  The focus on systems and processes we've developed and continue to improve will allow us to build many more inspirational homes efficiently in multiple market areas...sounds innovative right?  

2. "Live-Work-Balance" 
In the past, this mantra was used to describe how we value each other beyond work.  However, the words seemed to set our personal life at odds against our work. Most of us see our personal purpose lived out in the work that we get to do here at Green Canopy. The new verbiage will sound more like "Fostering Community at Work."  

3. "Autonomy" 
This value came from Daniel Pink and his exploration of Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose being a prime motivation for individuals to excel in their work. You can watch the TED talk here.

Autonomy is at the core of the most driven teams, and since this cultural orientation is pretty well set at Green Canopy – we are shifting our attention to the next level, Accountability! This takes into account how our individual work connects to the greater team.

In the grand scheme, an outsider will not notice too much of a change in the way we treat each other here at Green Canopy. Many of the atypical values you'd never expect to see at a construction company will remain intact. We will continue to stay lighthearted and have fun. We will continue to talk about our feelings. And good god yes, we value vulnerability!  At the core of it, these values help us to communicate well, excel and to learn and grow quickly.  We know we have a mission to accomplish and we have to grow past our comfort zone to do it.  

Some days, I still wish that a simple wink is enough to be the hero. But my family is certainly better off with the fact that I've learned how to wash the dishes really, really, really well.

Mission, Vision, Values: Part 1

Contributed by: Krystal Meiners, Director of Marketing

I recently read an article from FastCo entitled “Why Are Construction Workers the Happiest Employees?”It was such a catchy headline – 1. Because I truly feel that I work with some of the happiest, most positive people at Green Canopy and 2. Because the article was literally published hours after our annual Mission-Vision-Values (MVV) workshop.

The article goes on to explain many of the reasons that construction employees are particularly happy in their jobs – the number one reason is that they feel supported by their team. The article couldn’t be more right. And our recent workshop revealed much of the same.

This workshop is one of my highlights of the year - it is always an experience that gets our team teary-eyed about the culture that we share and the support that we have for one another (OK, maybe I’m the only one that got teary-eyed BUT I know people were excited to share and inspired to continue building a great company). It is also a time where we define or vision and goals for the year.

While some would cringe at this type of corporate, stick-in-the-mud, trust fall, team building event – we have yet to have that experience during MVV. Probably because it is less of a team-building event and more of a realignment of the company - a chance for everyone to speak to the values that we foster as a team.

Each year we discuss and develop a set of values that enable us to work better, smarter and with more impact as we grow and change as an organization. It’s like group counseling for a group that already works well together. Our “counselor” is Neil; a lithe corporate culture connoisseur with a big brain and a dirty mouth. He leads our process and lends great perspective. He keeps us from getting hung up, and keeps the mic moving (further and further away from our CEO). Got to hand it to Neal – he knows what he is doing – and keeps people talking during a variety of group breakouts, Q&A and team sharing.

In part 2 and 3 of this blog series, we will explore the Core Values, Aspirational Values and work mantras that were developed by the team and that are currently being synthesized into a consumable format.

For now – I was hoping to share the thoughts of some of our team members on the process and what they got out of the shared experience. For many – it was their first MVV, which is particularly impactful to us as a company. Their first impressions and insight into the framework that keeps our corporate culture from stagnating is quick to reveal whether our values are perceived as lip service or not.

Here is what some of our team members had to say:

  • Dean Gorby; Project Manager and MVV Virgin:

  • I felt humbled after the workshop Friday, so many talented people devoted to such a worthy cause – the fact that the leadership put so much effort into sharing their vison with us and allow us to become part of it through participation, only makes me more committed to contribute to the success of GCH. I hope I can be a part of its future.

  • Canuche Terranella; COO & MVV Veteran:

  • I love hearing the perspective of the guys I don’t work with every day. I love hearing about what Accountability means to Oscar, what Autonomy means to Larry, what happens when you take an idea from sales and you interpret it from the perspective of the site super.  It’s a great moment of sharing perspectives and re-calibration to what we’re working on.

  • Eric Thomassian; Project Engineer and MVV Virgin:

  • I think it’s an important workshop to have because we have so many people from different backgrounds who have different values and reasons for being here at Green Canopy. As a mission driven company, it’s important for me to have the opportunity to lay out our values and mission for the coming year. It aligns and connects us together as one company towards similar goals. We know better what we can expect from each other and what we to be held accountable for as a Green Canopy employee.

  • Ami Nieto; Office Manager, Portland Lead and MVV Veteran:

  • The annual MVV retreat is a fulfilling and motivating experience for me as an employee at Green Canopy. For me, this year’s retreat was a reflection of the recent changes within the Company and a reminder to focus on the importance of our core values. I would appreciate an all-day retreat so that we would have time to talk more about our vision and mission. There is so much more we could talk about as a group that would provide value to the culture we experience each day at Green Canopy.  It would also enable us to synthesize the values as a team and come up with the “new name” for those values that are being changed. It feels like we are losing a bit of the group voice by having the Leadership Team take it to another room/place/time to decide on those values among themselves.

Every year, our CEO has shown the same video during our Mission Vision Values retreat. The video depicts a funny, groovy dancer in a field doing his own thing. Soon he has a crowd around him and everybody is having a good time dancing and grooving and loving the music. For the last few years – Green Canopy has managed to attract a number of talented individuals who are excited to join in the dance and enjoy the music. This year – Aaron challenged us. He stopped the music and said “Dancing together in a field is fun but what if this were a flash mob?”

He challenged us all to hone in, focus and master what we do at the company so that when we all dance together it is choreographed and succinct- intentional yet impactful. At the core, we are all dedicated and passionate people – but becoming masters of our work, masters of our budgets, and masters of this business is what is going to take us from passion to profits – from dancing in a field alone, together – to dancing together in support of one another.

Sure the article mentions that construction workers are happy because the industry is on the rise which leads to job security, etc. but that can be said about a lot of industries. The reason why Green Canopy employees are so happy – is because we are a team – with shared values that allow us to dance together.

Home for the Holidays

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Contributed by Krystal Meiners; Director of Marketing

The holidays are usually a time for family, a time for friends and loved ones and a time of reflection and celebration for what you have. For many, it is also a time for worship or travel or even shopping.

What I find especially exciting about this Christmas – is that many families including my own and will be celebrating this holiday season in their very first home. All across Seattle (and the world really) there are people, couples and individuals building new traditions in a brand new place. It is a special time of year and a special moment to realize that, as a homebuilder, we are incredibly involved in the process of helping to build those dreams and traditions for people.

While our designers are not typically thinking of where to put the Christmas trees or menorahs – we are thinking about spaces in terms of entertainment, family, capturing moments, creating delight, delivering mystery and excitement, connecting to nature and cradling that low winter light from the Pacific Northwest. We think that the spaces we build can help shape these experiences into lasting memories that live with the home and create a safe and inspirational space for generations.

Green Canopy has built 20+ homes this year. We hope that that will equate to thousands of exciting, warm and happy memories for the families and individuals that will be celebrating this year in a brand new Green Canopy Home.

Welcome Home to our newest Green Canopy Homeowners and Happy Holidays to all!

Here are some of the inspirational spaces that Green Canopy has built this year:

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.