How to Write a Values Statement

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds; Updated September 26, 2017
office workers with revealing shadows

A values statement helps internally guide a business’s ongoing practices and communicates its core principles to external stakeholders. Creating a values statement should involve more than an owner and his senior staff or a board of directors. Input from management, staff and customers is important to ensure a company communicates what it stands for.

Decide Why You Want One

Create a specific list of reasons your company needs or wants a values statement. A small-business owner or group of partners at a closely held company might want to make a personal statement about their core beliefs. A larger company might want to generate goodwill among the members of a target audience. A values statement can also help a business attract better employees and generate more partnerships with community institutions.

Create the Project Team

Treat the creation of a values statement as a project that will include input from a variety of participants. Name a project leader, who might be a single person who eventually writes the statement. Review the purpose of the values statement to the company to determine which groups or stakeholders need to be polled or otherwise involved in the project.

Solicit Input

Contact those who will be involved in the project and tell them its purpose. Provide them with your definition of a values statement, general reasons why companies have them and samples of values statements from a variety of businesses, including competitors. Include your company’s articles of incorporation or bylaws. Ask for input regarding what the values statement should address and any suggestions for specific inclusions or wordings of goals. Write your first draft based on this input, matched against your original purpose for creating a values statement.

Common Items

The following are common topics included in values statements:

  • Responsibility to customers, shareholders and employees
  • Responsibility to an industry or profession
  • Responsibility to a local community, country or the planet
  • Fair employment practices
  • Nondiscrimination
  • Environmental care
  • Charitable giving
  • Transparency

Avoid making your values statement a simple list of overly general words and phrases, such as “integrity,” “honesty” and “accountability.” These are important values you can start with, and then amplify with examples or explanations.

Review Draft With Stakeholders

Show your first draft to your project team and any other stakeholders you contacted. Start by reminding them of your purpose for creating a values statement. List the principles you want to cover in your statement. Tell them how you think your values statement will affect the business. Show your team the statement and ask them for their final input.

Create Final Document

Using the feedback you received from your stakeholders on your initial draft, write your final version of the values statement. Share it with the person or group who will approve it, reviewing the reason for the statement, the values you were instructed to cover, the input you received from key stakeholders and an explanation of how your proposed values statements addresses all of these items.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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