Is culture more important than strategy?
This may seem like a strange question to ask but it is one that is getting asked more and more. As leaders become less visible their actions are arguably defined more by corporate strategy rather than principle.
Is it fair to ask whether principle, conviction and courage are losing their importance in the controlled arenas of corporate life? If they are, the danger is that good people will not follow.
We have often argued that the government is no longer able to lead in society as it once did. That power now lies with business. However, business needs to step up to the platform as their responsibility goes beyond their own strategy and needs.
As a case study, consider “Ben & Jerry’s”. They had a project called “Jesus, Bombs, and Ice Cream” which was all about building a world with fewer bombs and more ice cream. Other things they did:
- When they started the company, they set a maximum wage scale of 5:1 to ensure that no one in the company made more than 5 times what someone else made.
- For the brownies in their Fudge Brownie, they teamed up with Greyston Bakery in New York, a company that intentionally employed those who have had difficult lives and challenges to employment.
- Ben & Jerry’s was the first corporate sponsor of Occupy Wall Street, and has always created specialty flavors to support great causes like peace, environmentalism and racial justice.
One their more recent flavors is Empower Mint, and money from sales goes to the movement for black lives.
The old fashioned quaintness of the 1970s and 1980s when people had jobs for life is often written about. The world today has changed and is fast paced and younger talent may change jobs every few years. However often employees want to be loyal, to belong and to be valued. Maybe the change is less about employees but more about how corporates view their employees?
There is absolutely no reason why corporates cannot possess great principles and real conviction. The Forte Empire had them. Great companies show leadership in different ways but conviction and principles need to sit at the heart.
Perhaps employees walk away from a lack of conviction and culture?