Your values are on show. What you do now matters.

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Posted by Amanda Fajak - 27 March, 2020

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I love Café Nero. I like the strong Italian coffee blend, the friendly staff, the fact I have an app on my phone and its so easy to get a coffee when my hands are full. I also love Joe and Juice because of the ambiance of their coffee shops; Black Sheep as they give free coffee to the homeless and Starbucks well, because its convenient. Monday it emerged that Café Nero are giving free tea and coffee to NHS workers and I felt a surge of loyalty towards them. They are doing something for others whilst hurting themselves so I feel a strong need to do everything I can to support them now and into the future.

How a company behaves in the tough times reflects their true values and impacts how we as customers, employees and communities will choose to engage with them in the future.

Corporate culture values

Even before this crisis, the importance of values had been growing. Research from 2019 showed that 55% of consumers (Salesforce report 2019) prefer to buy from companies with good values.  In particular, companies who are transparent, promote equality, are ethical, who give back to the planet & communities and walk their talk. The majority of job candidates (77%) are using culture as a decision making criteria before joining a company and 66% of millennials value culture over compensation. 

Society has increasingly become more conscious of the importance of values and how companies behave, but our attention to this is heightened today. Everything is heightened today.

This crisis is bringing out the best and worst in people and companies. And people are noticing – for example a recent twitter feed (an extract of which is below) has started listing how UK companies have responded to the crisis. Have people kept their staff safe? Have they supported the NHS? Have they shed or tried to protect jobs? Wholefoods and Amazon for example have raised wages during the crisis, McDonalds and Café Nero are giving away free coffee. Other companies have set up funds; started making alternate products to support the economy; or offered to continue to pay staff even before the government announcements.

We are all feeling disrupted and vulnerable and this means we are looking for things that normalise our world and give us hope. As a result we are looking to the companies and people demonstrating pure generosity.

Why is generosity important now?

Generosity (genuine unfiltered giving without expecting anything in return) triggers our reciprocity norm. The reciprocity norm operates on a simple principle – we feel obligated to return a favour that someone does for us.

In this case, reciprocity does not reside solely at an individual level, it is being demonstrated at a community level. Where companies are stepping up and stepping in to support us as a community and there is no immediate upside evident for them, the community in turn rallies around them creating a positive cycle which will hopefully help us all prevail through this crisis.

On the flip side we need to remember that there are many companies that are struggling to survive. Generosity may just not a possibility for them. In those cases, as members of their community, we must ensure that we are generous in our support of them so that all move forward out of this as a healthier more connected more positive society.

To all of those companies, communities and individuals that are going above and beyond.
You do give us hope;
You make us grateful;
You do inspire us; and
You make us want to do what we can to support you in any way we can for now and into the future.

Remember we can always do more and be more.

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Topics: Reputational risk, Values, Leading culture


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