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How To Instill Values Into Your Business

Roger David is the President/CEO of GSR Brands, the parent company of Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee.

Life has changed as a result of the pandemic — and with that, so has how we do business. And while we are longing for a return to “normal,” several things are likely to stay for the long term.

One such change has been bubbling for years, and 2020 saw it burst into prominence: People want to purchase from and work for companies that are caring and compassionate to the communities and employees they serve. The question, “Is this company socially and ethically in tune with my own beliefs?” has become nearly as (if not just as) important as the product or service offered. In the wake of a global pandemic and increased calls for diversity, equity and inclusion, this reality has only been intensified.

Stay ahead of a shifting tide among consumers and workers.

A Futerra survey (via Forbes) of more than 1,000 consumers in 2018 found that 88% of consumers want companies to help them make a difference. A 2019 survey of 600 U.S. adults by Markstein, a communications agency, and Certus Insights, a market research firm, found similar results: 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental concerns, and 46% “pay close attention” to a brand’s social responsibility when making purchases.

Just as Newsweek reported that “employees want an ethical workplace and a growing number are willing to protest to get it” in July 2019, a Forbes contributor published a similar observation in March 2020 when they detailed “the power of purpose.” The message I received from both articles was clear: Any company intent on being successful in 2021 and beyond needs to establish policies and practices that show concern for all of their constituents, not just their paying customers.

Core values shouldn’t be a revelation, though. We all likely have values we hold dear, and these values are a great place to start when you think about what you want your business to stand for.

Establishing values in business requires treating people like family.

Cincinnati-style chili is a staple in my region and a dish my family’s business has served for more than 55 years. There are plenty of restaurants serving their version of Cincinnati-style chili, either as their entire operation or as a dish on the menu. However, I believe the values we exhibit daily continue to allow us to stand out in a crowded market, and they can do the same for any business willing to do the work to follow suit.

Long before my family ever served a meal to a guest in America, my grandfather, Shakir Daoud, was busy serving as a village leader in his native country, Jordan. His home became a focal point of the community because he and his wife, Nora, always had a pot simmering away on the stove and were ready to feed any guest who came to their home, even if they didn’t have much for themselves and their 10 children. That one pot always magically found a way to feed as many people as was needed. Their four sons (my father and three of his brothers) brought this tradition — this family value — with them to Cincinnati, Ohio. And when they opened their first restaurant, they found ways of supporting the community with the same “one-pot” philosophy.

Since then, we’ve continued upholding these values and strive to treat guests like family. I’m finding that people expect companies to have the same level of care and concern today, regardless of whether they are a consumer, employee or passerby. And ensuring you are consistent and transparent about these values can continually show your company cares.

So, how do you instill values into a business? I recommend doing it the same way my grandfather did decades ago: by practicing what you preach, treating people like family and welcoming everyone to a seat at your table. In my business, for example, franchise owners are our extended family, and the same is true for corporate and restaurant staff. By extension, that same mentality is passed on to guests.

So start thinking about how your company’s values can inform the actions you take. Consider, for instance, supporting charitable organizations that align with your values or offering benefits and rewards to employees that can help enrich and improve their lives. The key is showing what your company stands for, as this will set the tone for your business and what you represent.

Value your values.

Remember, a dysfunctional family has members who lack trust, don’t feel valued, behave selfishly and fail to look out for one another. There’s no bond, no sense of community, and they cannot coexist. From my perspective, if you fail to establish a culture where employees or customers feel your values, your business will pay a price. I believe companies that care about more than just profits are the ones most likely to thrive.

There are many ways to put your values into action, and I am proof that there’s a high return on the investment beyond just profits. In the end, you might find that kindness really does pay off.

*Originally posted on