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What is a ‘Values Led Business’?

When I founded FP Comms, I knew I wanted a business that positively contributed to society.  However, I felt that I had two obstacles:

  • Marketing has a bad reputation
  • Business is a world filled with greedy, ruthless people.

As you can see, I am dealing with perception and stereotype of history and the legacy of the actions of a few. At the time of starting the business, I knew and realised that there is a space for doing business in a better way.

However, I did not know what that better way was and what it looked like. I knew that it was not a charity and I also knew that it was not a ‘branding exercise’ like CSR or CIC.  What I knew was that you can have fun and ‘enjoy’ (I use the word enjoy loosely as being a success is hard work and can be agonising at times), the process of building a business, but at the same time serve society better through:

  • Fair and equal pay,
  • Equality,
  • Mental, emotional and physical well-being ….

and the list goes on…

With this in mind, I went in search of models across many sectors to see what I found.  Amid my search, I came across a variety of terminology:

  • Conscious Capitalism
  • Social Impact Companies
  • Ethical Business
  • Values Led Businesses
  • Purpose-driven businesses
  • Heart centred

Some of these terminologies, sit in the space of formal structures, as in the case of Conscious Capitalism a movement founded by John Mackey of Whole Foods, or B LAB, founded by B Corp.

However, others are good sounding terms which may catch on. I also discovered, and I am gaining a greater understanding of this space and the habits of people that operate in this space. So much so, that I can identify many of my clients who I can recognise as being a business wanting to serve or create companies for the greater good.  However, many of them believe that they have to separate business from the cause.

Many businesses operating from a position of:


but find it a struggle to articulate the good work they are doing as they grow their business.

One of the terms that seemed to be of interest is the phrase ‘VALUES-LED BUSINESS’ but what does that mean?

I asked a few people their views on the term ‘VALUES LED BUSINESS’  here are some of the responses.

Julie Creffield  –  

“not selling out” sticking to the reasons you started out, and not being motivated by money or growth at the expense of what you believe in.

An example for me is the amount of diet companies that offer me large sums of money to get to my audience. Financially this would help grow my business no end, but ethically it is never going to happen.”

Benjamin Bosomprah 

I expect a values led business to be a business with the aim of growing from strength to strength no matter world economic conditions. Also adding value to its staff through regular training.”

Tet Kofi 

“A business that makes money or grows adhering to a set of rules and principles, where the means and the ends are in perfect synchronicity or accord.”

Ian Chambers –

Having a central value or meaning for the business existence, which is more important than changing the business model for other benefits, which might include not selling the business to someone with different values. “

Michelle Raymond –

“I run a values based business with both the HR and coaching. I have strong ethics on transparency, honesty and reliability and try to work with organisations that reflect that but recently as in a few months ago, I think I’ve put myself in a position where I’ve gone for the ‘fame of the name’ rather than be true to my values and I feel uncomfortable.

I’ve taken on work with a company that do not evoke strong beliefs in fairness and equity and I fear I shouldn’t have taken it on because I don’t agree with their values.

The challenge is to continue to work for this company for a further 2 months then part ways.

Misaligned and misappropriated values is no good.”

The desire to do better business has benefits for society and business globally.  There are Mintel reports that have shown the economical benefits for the practice of ‘doing better’ in business.  But also, it is increasingly evident the social benefit of doing better business.
I believe in the power of entrepreneurship and good business.  It will never be perfect, but ultimately, we have to know, that for the survival of our mental, emotional and physical well-being, businesses need to step up, because it is both parts of the problem and definitely part of the solution.

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