One of the discussion topics over the past few days at Dreamforce was how different corporate cultures reinforce or undermine their corporate values, such as Salesforce’s 1:1:1 commitment (1% profits, 1% equity, 1% employee time to worthy causes).

Chihuly Glass Museum - Seattle

What makes core values work or not work isn’t just rooted in what the company does for its employees or how seating is arranged. What makes corporate transparency work in the long term is how transparent a company can be about its decision making processes.

Companies experience plenty of trouble understanding transparency, and the reason is that transparency is assumed to be a requirement to disclose everything to employees or the public. That assumption, that viewpoint is incorrect. Transparency doesn’t have to mean full disclosure of everything; transparency does mean that the reasoning behind decisions a company has made must be disclosed and explained.

What makes that easier, what should make that easier for all companies, is having and living by your corporate core values. For example, if a company has “putting employees first” as a core value, then in order for transparency to work, the company must make decisions that put employees first in tangible and non-tangible ways. If you have a bad customer, do you make a decision to fire that customer? If “putting employees first” is truly a core value, then the answer must be yes, and little other explanation or detail is required beyond surface level facts about why the decision was in alignment with the core values.

SHIFT’s 7 core values – creative, connected, dedicated, smart, positive, honorable, and ballsy – are part of corporate and employee decision making processes. When we reject a guest blog post, we explain why based on the core values. When we do or don’t make a hire, we explain why based on the core values. When we make organizational changes, take on or dismiss clients, we explain why based on the core values. No one needs to know the nitty gritty details of a decision, but everyone needs to know it was because the decision was rooted in the core values and not living up to them as fully as possible.

How transparent are you in your decision making processes? The answer to greater transparency may lie in your core values.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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