In today’s business environment, there is no escaping that consumers and employees are significantly influenced by their personal values, and they look to buy, join, and engage with companies who align with them. It is not enough to have a static values manifesto pinned to a website. Furthermore, while brands are successfully using their marketing to show their commitment, in an increasingly sophisticated and connected culture, it is not enough to espouse these fundamental principles or allude to them in marketing representations. People want to see the values, the process, and the results. To best engage key and potential stakeholders on corporate values, businesses need to amass and analyze data and tell the story that is revealed by the results.
Learning Through Storytelling
A company’s stated commitment to a fundamental value like diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is only the beginning. To engage and persuade stakeholders of authentic commitment, business leadership should report on its concrete manifestation — they need to show they are putting their money where their mouth is. While there are a variety of reporting techniques, people are more engaged and more likely to learn from storytelling. A story includes characters, a challenge, the path to resolution, and an outcome. Companies can demonstrate commitment by reporting on their progress and journey through a story that tells who the focus is on, what is the plan, and how the company has achieved change. The narrative should be “we made the commitment, here is our plan, and here is how we are doing, and this is how it impacts our community.”
Develop A Plan
Businesses have a dizzying variety of options to approach their values commitment. In the story, companies can demonstrate genuine alignment and propel the narrative by incorporating these values on all levels of the entity structure — from the boardroom to the supply chain. The very process of developing a 360° plan for implementing corporate-wide changes is the first chapter in the journey to genuine alignment. Great or small, these changes need to be concrete and measurable, and they must include a reporting mechanism to evaluate success.
Gather the Data
With a plan in place, a company’s pursuit of its corporate values can be tracked to demonstrate progress. Concrete initiatives also can include an emphasis on the supply chain. Showing how corporate spend is being allocated in a way that aligns with company values can be accomplished by measuring spend, as well as finding ways to demonstrate the connections with local communities and diverse suppliers. Hard data is one part of the story that can bolster the authenticity of a company’s commitment.
Tell the Story
While critical to establishing performance, hard data is not easy to assimilate. Rather than figures and charts, a narrative notifying points of progress, challenges, and other key information revealed by the data can transform dry statistics into an accessible format. Demonstrating progress and commitment serves the purpose of reengaging and reassuring key and potential stakeholders of a genuine commitment to values that they espouse and expect of the company. In addition to stark numbers, progress is measured by tangible successes, which, in the case of a value like DEI, means telling the story of the people who are impacted. For example, a supply chain spend on a local, minority-owned business will be more than the raw figures, it will be the story of a business succeeding and expanding due to the partnership, of a community impacted by this economic boost, and of the opportunities generated by this partnership. The story is there in the data, and it will bring the achievements to life and help highlight challenges and places for growth.
Continue the Conversation
Values are not an end that can be achieved; they are a journey towards progress. As a company moves through its plan, gathers its data, and tells its story, lessons will be learned about the entire process. Companies can learn from challenges and build on successes to advance their purpose. These lessons should become part of the story by helping the company to evolve, emphasizing action over words, and providing a model for other companies to follow.
Whether increasing market share, recruiting talent, or achieving other goals where values have come to play a significant role, people will do their due diligence. They can and will dig deeper to feel confident that the company is putting good ideas into action. Telling the story from value to plan to progress, provides that evidence. It is not a simple process, and it is worth working with an experienced professional to tease out the existing accomplishments, plan for additional action, and report on measurable success.
Originally published on Medium.
About Florence Amate
Florence Amate is the Founder and President of Laisar Management Group. A management consulting company based in Silver Spring, Maryland, that is helping organizations rethink the role Supplier Diversity and Sustainability plays in their overall business strategy. Organizations in every industry have relied on Florence and her team to shape their community engagement and sustainability strategies.
Florence’s belief that companies are stronger when they take the time to understand their common interest within the communities they choose to operate has been evident in the projects she has worked on over the last 12 years. Since 2011, she has successfully developed and managed economic and workforce inclusion solutions utilizing various proprietary business and data analytics applications. Organizations have embraced how internal and external data can be used to improve their bottom line, tell their story and build stronger and more vibrant communities.
Laisar provides supplier diversity, sustainability services and solutions. Laisar’s innovative, and integrated solutions for economic inclusion and workforce utilization, shapes community engagement and overall corporate strategies. We work with clients to develop and execute programs that bring socio-economic benefits to the communities where they live, work and play.
By Florence Amate published on Medium on September 1, 2022, 4mn read.
Photos: iStock Images.