Why Values Matter

I’m sure you caught the latest news about Uber this week. In case you didn’t, Uber released the results of a highly anticipated, internal investigation centered around unethical business practices. The report offered 47 recommendations, including creating a board oversight committee, rewriting Uber's cultural values, reducing alcohol use at work events, and, prohibiting intimate relationships between employees and their bosses. We also learned that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, has voluntarily taken a leave of absence.  

The interesting paradox in this story is that Uber’s company values have been the reason for both their success as well as the recent upheaval. While many organizations set aside core values as the obligatory section on their website, other organizations like Uber fully embrace them. In Uber’s case, it’s fascinating to consider how these values can manifest into something that not only moves business, but impacts people’s lives.  

In case you were wondering, here is a list of Uber’s 14 core values: 1. Super-pumpedness; 2. Always be hustlin’; 3. Let builders build; 4. Meritocracy and toe-stepping; 5. Principled confrontation; 6. Take big bold bets; 7. Celebrate cities;     8. Make magic; 9. Inside out; 10. Optimistic leadership; 11. Being yourself; 12. Be an owner, not a renter; 13. Champion’s mindset; 14. Obsession with the customer

While most of these values may seem harmless, many of them encouraged the company’s hyper-aggressive approach while having a complete disregard for the scorched earth they set along the way. 

The Uber fiasco has taught us a few things. First, we need to spend less time being infatuated with some of Silicon Valley’s young and brash leaders. It has also underscored the importance for general oversight, particularly at the board level. Finally, Uber demonstrated that core values can be a critical ingredient for success or failure if you don’t carefully consider the broader implications.

So, what happens when a company gets it right? That is, leveraging their values to succeed in business, yet remaining socially guided by a moral compass. Ask Patagonia. Founded in 1957, Patagonia has since expanded into a global brand, reaching more than $750 million in sales. When the current CEO, Rose Marcario, took over as CFO in 2008, Patagonia showed a compounded annual growth rate of 14%, and profits tripled. More importantly, the company has done this while maintaining a strict commitment to sustainability.

What are Patagonia’s core values? 1. Build the best product, 2. Cause no unnecessary harm, 3. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis

Now, that’s impressive when you consider Patagonia’s values are both empowering and motivating. The good news… over the last decade, people around the world have become more aware of corporate sustainability and transparency issues, and they use their wallets to show it. In fact, we just heard this week that Jason Fried, CEO and founder of Chicago-based Basecamp, is no longer reimbursing his team for Uber rides. Fried said,“As a company, we’re big believers in basically every dollar is a vote. If you spend a dollar with someone, you’re basically saying, ‘I want more of that in the world’, and we want less of Uber.”

Hopefully, the Uber story has forced organizations to revisit their core values. For Beatha Group, our values are straightforward. We believe in simplicity and sustainability. They continue to shape our view of the world both in terms of our approach and how we serve. Do your values continue to reinforce company’s mission? Are your employees following the company’s values with purpose? We would love to hear from you.