What Is a Value Statement?

by Steffani Cameron - Updated October 26, 2018
Business discussion

A value statement isn’t essential to the running of a company, but it’s important for companies to have a clear idea of who they are. And they want the public and their employees to understand that identity. Simply put, a value statement is a declaration that announces a company’s top priorities and core beliefs, both to guide their employees’ actions and also to connect with consumers.

Mission Statements Versus Value Statements

Today, companies tend to have mission statements and value statements. While one might find them on the same page on a company’s website, they speak to different things.

A mission statement is all about why a company exists; its purpose and its intention. In short, a mission statement explains what a company does or wants to achieve.

A value statement, on the other hand, gives clarity about the management perspective on who the company is today, how they act and who they want to serve, and the culture they nurture in their company. Done well, value statements can be a guiding force for employees in making decisions about problem-solving and helping customers. It’s about behavior the company prioritizes and ideally should convey the soul of what the company is.

Developing Core Values

A big mistake a company can make is in thinking the core values are to be decided by the company brass. In reality, it should be a collaborative effort that employees play a role in.

For many companies, value statements are about several core values, qualities and behaviors that they value over making a sale. When starting a company, you may not yet know what’s most important to you, value-wise, and it’s OK to take time to understand what your priorities are because it will evolve as you establish a corporate culture.

There are more than 200 common values that could fill your core values list. Often, you might hear about “the five core values,” but the reality is this list changes from industry-to-industry, company-to-company and person-to-person.

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When expressing your core values, though, stay away from the obvious. Of course, you believe in being ethical; if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be writing a value statement. Yes, teamwork should be valued in your company – you’re in trouble if it’s not. Obviously, you’re customer-oriented; that’s what a business is all about.

Companies Who Live Their Values

It’s easy for value statements to sometimes sound like lip service. For some companies, the value statements are a good example of why they become so loved and so successful, engendering great loyalty from their customers. Here are a few worth thinking about:

IKEA:

  • Daring to be different; We question old solutions and, if we have a better idea, we are willing to change.
  • Togetherness and enthusiasm; Together, we have the power to solve seemingly unsolvable problems. We do it all the time.

Starbucks:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.

Living Your Company Values

Soliciting input from managers and employees about what your company values seem to be is a great team-building project in strengthening your core identity. Values can deepen, adapt or evolve over the years, so revisiting values periodically and asking for perspectives from others can be a worthwhile experience for everyone at your company.

When employees act according to the values, even if it means turning away a customer or rejecting a sale because of bad behavior or conflicts that test your corporate values, these employees should be celebrated, not reprimanded.

When they act in conflict with the values – as in 2018, when Starbucks faced controversy from managers who seemed to be treating customers differently based on their skin color – it's an opportunity to revisit company values and ensure everyone remembers who the company is. Starbucks responded to their scandal by shutting down every store in the country for a full day of sensitivity training, showing their customers that company management lived their aforementioned values of everyone being welcome and challenging their status quo. And that’s what value statements are all about.

About the Author

Steffani Cameron is a professional writer who has written for the Washington Post, Culture, Yahoo!, Canadian Traveller, and many other platforms. Some writing projects have included ghost-writing for CEOs and doing strategy white papers. She frequently writes for corporate clients representing Fortune 500 brands on subjects that include marketing, business, and social media trends.

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