Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream considers themselves to be a “values-led ” business. Co-founder Ben Cohen, in fact, had a saying, “When you go to work in the morning you shouldn’t have to leave your values behind.”
OK, sure. We’ve all heard that a thousand times before. Yawn. I mean, seriously, what business DOESN’T make a claim about how their values are everything to them?
Here’s what I tell my clients and audiences all over the world: “You have a lovely, inspiring list of values. But guess what? So do your competitors. In fact, some of your competitors have the exact same values! So what makes you any different? Why should your customers and employees believe you’re any more serious about your values than your competitors are?”
Of course, it all comes down to those old cliches, “Actions speak louder than words” and “Talk is cheap.”
Which is why it’s easy to see Ben and Jerry’s values aren’t just slogans or meaningless, motherhood statements. Ben and Jerry’s can point to a long list of decisions and actions that reflect tough choices that have been made in order to remain true to their values – choices that have sometimes cost them financially, at least in the short term. Ben and Jerry’s has taken a stance that they want to use their company for the greater good; to create a better world. For example, they support small family farms, fair-trade certified sugar suppliers, and partners that can prove they are modeling environmental sustainability. They have spoken out publicly and created programs around climate change initiatives and marriage equality.
Just one example of something Ben and Jerry’s does that reflects their commitment to their values: They think nothing of flying a team of employees down to Latin America so the employees can see first hand how a sugar co-op is treating their employees and the environment, because they know that level of understanding and commitment will pay off with employees for years to come.
So what is your organization willing to do to back up your values? What bold initiative or commitment to employees would demonstrate your values truly mean not just something…but everything?
Michael Kerr, 2017. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, author and business trainer. For a weekly supply of fresh, gluten-free inspiration and ideas for your workplace, be sure to sign up for Inspiring Workplaces and receive the free bonus e-book, 340 Ways to Put Humor to Work.
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