Today, theguardian.com posted a poll about company values, and as I was answering the questions a few things struck me. The first two questions asked “Have corporate values gained prominence at your workplace in the last year? … In the last five years?” I answered no for each — although I didn’t think “No” reflected that our values actually are very important. I answered no because in the eight+ years I’ve been with the company, our values have always been front and center, not just in the last year or five.
And if I look at Clorox’s 100+ year history, they were alive and well long before I joined. In WWII, when the government rationed chlorine and the War Production Board urged bleach-makers to dilute their products, Clorox declined and chose to sell fewer bottles. At the same time, despite having negotiated long-term contracts at favorable rates before the war, CEO Bill Roth released suppliers from the contracts and paid market prices.
Most employees know these stories, just as they know our four core values: Do the Right Thing, Stretch for Results, Take Personal Ownership and Work Together to Win. Granted, as I type them out, they do have a “corporate-speak” feel to them, but the sentiment behind them seems to match up well with how Clorox people approach their work, and from my observations, their personal lives. So when another question from the poll asked “How closely do your company values match your personal values?” the answer was “Very closely.”
The poll also asked “Do corporate values tend to improve sustainability and responsibility efforts?” and “Do corporate values tend to benefit core business operations?” Yes and yes. Our values help us prioritize work, including integrating sustainability into our business operations, and are inextricably linked to improving “how” we work with each other and our partners.
We’re not perfect. Like every company, and for that matter, every person, we can’t do everything our values would lead us to do (e.g., sponsor all the community projects we’d like or immediately take our operations to zero waste). But, in answering some of the questions about our company values, it did inspire a moment of appreciation for having the opportunity to work with great people at a trusted company where values do matter.