Sustainability Corner:  CSR – Show us your values

CSR and Sustainability reporting has been with us for a while, but businesses are just beginning to understand its potential and importance.
Ebenezer ASUMANG & Romein VAN STADEN

“It’s not hard to make decisions, once you know what your values are.”

———–Roy. E Disney, longtime senior executive for Walt Disney Company

Is your business a business that acts consciously? Does your business take every decision with your business values in mind? Do you negotiate contracts with your core values in mind? Do you communicate as constructively with your employees as you should? Where do your business values come from? Over the years, many leaders and businesses have attempted to understand business values. But not many have tried to explain business values –why we value what we do.

One could argue that values evolve in much the same way that our societies do. Similarly, business values that suit a particular environment will allow an organization to flourish, whereas a business with mismatched or outdated values won’t last long. This will lead specific values to dominate and others to die out.

Hence, how might business values adapt to a world that may soon look very different? First, of course, any business seeking long-term success must be willing to create a brand that people trust, but this is only possible if companies stay true to their word. By the same token, we don’t know precisely how technological advancements will change business values, but we can be sure that they will.

To make an impact and change the world, businesses need to live by good values.

Put your money where your mouth is!

For a business to lead with authenticity, they will need to put their money where their mouth is and live their company’s core values. No one can trust a company that doesn’t have good values. That’s why embodying good values is essential for any business that wants to transform the world for the better. Actual change, adaptability, and transformation aren’t about appearances and behavior. Instead, it’s about questioning and revising your core values.

Looking back and presently, every major religion and spiritual tradition espouses one fundamental value: treat other people the way you would like to be treated. That fundamental maxim should underpin every value you cultivate as a business. If businesses put other people’s well-being and need first in everything they do, they can be sure of a successful company. As such, the great thing about good values is that they can be practiced and learned. Operating and going business according to good values is choice businesses make every day, meaning it is not inherent. However, businesses that embrace good values can completely transform their companies and the world around them.

Good values transcend specific circumstances. When they’re internalized, they give companies a blueprint for all future action. Good values can have a positive impact on every aspect of an organization. For example, Guatemalan bank BANTRAB experienced a growth spurt of nearly 20 percent in their financial portfolio in the years after implementing values training for every member of staff. They were also rated one of the best places to work three years in a row. Valued employees create successful organizations.

No one wants to be associated with a hypocritical company that says one thing and does another. So, if your business hopes to be a spark, it’s crucial to establish clear values and follow through on them. There are benefits to having strong core values, especially when it comes to making decisions. When businesses know where they stand, they will find it easy to make the right choices.

Values equal chief operating system

Businesses can think of core values as their operating system since they’re responsible for more than just employee behavior – they also dictate a company’s perception of others and how they generally think about things. So, for example, when a company’s core values are rooted in fear and self-loathing, it stands to reason that they will see threats everywhere they look. And when their perception is that they are constantly under attack, they will always be defensive rather than proactive.

However, businesses need to remember that being aware of their core values always comes with a vital responsibility to stay true to them. If your staff sees that you only adhere to your values when it’s convenient, they won’t trust you and will likely think you’ll always act in your own best interest, even when it goes against theirs. On the other hand, if companies believe a specific deviation from their values is insignificant, it can still be seen as a blatant act of hypocrisy to others. So, if businesses consider a healthy balance between work and life to be essential but suddenly start expecting employees and suppliers to work on Sundays, don’t be surprised if others think your company is untrustworthy.

It’s always wise for businesses to occasionally take stock of their recent actions and compare them against their values to make sure they’re consistent. When companies do something they believe in for that reason alone, they get success beyond success. Focusing on outcomes won’t allow companies to achieve this level of success; they must express their innermost values to do so. There are always things businesses wouldn’t do. Thus, their actions aren’t just a means to reach a particular outcome – they also express a company’s values. And that’s how businesses build integrity by consistently acting per their values.

Leading with Values

To look at values in action, we will show that the core values that Warren Buffett has worked so hard to instill, and the corporate culture that has resulted, are precisely what will keep Berkshire Hathaway successful even after Buffett is gone. Moreover, given Buffett’s path, it is clear to see how he instilled such a rock-solid culture and that it is possible for other companies to follow suit.

Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiaries do indeed share its own unique corporate culture, built on core values that serve to bring unity to such a wide-ranging portfolio. Berkshire Hathaway showed that one way to create a set of core values that your employees can remember and live by is to build them into your company’s name. Berkshire, for example, took each letter and assigned it a value, such as budget consciousness for “B” and earnestness for “E.” Try it yourself! In doing so, you might discover some fundamental principles with which your company can thrive.


The reflections in this article aim to help you create a business based on values that work. Indeed, doing the right thing often takes more effort than taking the easy way out, so determination is vital. Companies must be determined to stick to their values, no matter what obstacles they face. By sticking to their values, they’ll also let customers know that their brand is one they can trust.

Businesses have to continuously reflect on that the first component of vision is core values.  Whatever they are – innovation, integrity, a passion for quality, or dedication to customer service – they should be authentic.


Lubetzky, Daniel (2015): Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately. Ballantine Books.

Kofman, Fred (2006): Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values. Sounds True Inc.

Peck, M.Scott (1978): The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. Simon & Schuster.

Morris, Ian ( 2015): Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve. Princeton University Press.

 About the Writers:

Romein is a (self-confessed) Pan-Africanist by heart. His diversified professional career spans many different sectors, i.e., local government, mining, consultancy, construction, advertising, and development cooperations.. Romein is the Head: Business for Development at PIRON Global Development, Germany ( Contact him via ([email protected])

Ebenezer is a Development Communication Specialist, an SDG Mkt Building & SME Researcher and Finance & Investment Nomad. He`s Ag. Country Director with PIRON Global Development GmbH, Ghana (   Contact him via ([email protected])



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