'How Do We Know a Company’s Values?'

apr 2022 assumed values company values core valuing dei dei practitioners interculturalists values willette neal Apr 15, 2022

How Do We Know a Company’s Values?
by Willette Neal, SIETAR USA Director of Membership, Outreach & Diversity

As we enter April the opportunity for more conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion abound. Not in particular because it’s April, but more because there seems to be an unmistaken sense of unease floating around.  It’s as if we are all hovering around in suspense anxiously awaiting our next action.  Interculturalist and DEI Practitioners need not wait, and we need not to hover around anxiously, instead we should be leading the charge and the conversation in this very moment. Opportunities for discussion, learning and educating are appearing in droves all around us.  For instance, on a recent trip to the pharmacy I noticed something that has been of interest to me lately related to how we age.  Yes, I have been trying to increase my knowledge on ageism in the United States. Really quickly I will drop these little nuggets about ageism that I found on a display.  “Ageism refers to how we think (stereotypes), feel (prejudice) and act (discrimination) toward others or ourselves based on age (www.jp-demographic.eu).

Now back to my pharmacy visit, while ‘waiting’ in the pharmacy I took a seat in the available seating area. Product placement was apparent from my marketing class from many years earlier.  The items on display were targeting our aging population.  I decided to try to figure out how this placement came into my view.  I had visited the pharmacy several times and never noticed this display.  What was interesting is the targeted demographic based on the items that were being displayed.  There were several pill containers, a pill splitter, a lock box for pills, a handrail, portable toilet cleaner, blood pressure monitors, plastic pill bags, CPAP cleaning machine, assisted walking devices and several other things.  Some of the items required further inspection because I wasn’t sure of their purpose. But some items I recognized immediately.  I surmised that some marketer assumed that the person utilizing the seat that I was now occupying may need some of these items. Then I noticed something else, the pharmacist was taking long periods of time to explain medication and other things to the seasoned shoppers. I thought—this company values the relationship with their seasoned shoppers (well at least at this location).  This leads to what I would like to discuss for April.  How do we know a company’s values?

Stacy Gordon, the author of Un-bias, wrote “It has been demonstrated that when you don’t have well defined, clear values, and your employees don’t know what they are, decisions are difficult to make because employees don’t know what matters to the company.” How often have we stood in wonderment at the values of a company? Better yet how often have we stood in wonderment at the assumed values of a company? We can have some idea of what a company values based on their actions. Recently, I heard this statement from a friend, what if a company exemplified the values that they mentioned in their advertisement.  In other words, what happens when companies and organizations intentionally live by their diversity statements?  What if the actions taken by organizations were intentional in reaching their diversity, equity and inclusion goals therefore displaying the company’s values?  Core “valuing” is another way companies can link their diversity, equity, and inclusion statement to their actions.  Core valuing involves displaying the actions that motivate an organization.  What actions display a company’s seriousness about their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals? This, like most things, starts with listening to the voices of the individuals that are impacted.  Hearing from the individuals who are impacted by diversity, equity, and inclusion statements and actions.  And if these actions are being implemented correctly it should include everyone.  Everyone is impacted by these actions and statements.  There shouldn’t be anyone left out—the idea behind inclusion.

Companies and organizations must be diligent in seeking out the unheard voice.  I have determined that the unheard voice often takes a little more work and research to identify.  This can happen for several reasons, maybe the unheard voice is afraid of repercussions, retaliation or just maybe the unheard voice haven’t noticed any intentional actions reference diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Where is the company placing the available seat similar to my pharmacy visit? Is it in a room where decisions are made or is it somewhere where decisions are being briefed after the fact?  What is the company putting on display for the unheard voice to witness?  As Interculturalist and DEI practitioners, we must be a voice for the unheard.  We need to help companies and organizations be inclusive and intentional about their efforts.  Statements are empty if they are not followed with intentional actions that are motivated by the values of the company.

I have watched one company in particular make huge strides in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion from the outside.  They have worked on their public image, but their private image has the same barrier driven structure.  We don’t have time to hover around anxiously, while companies, organizations and individuals struggle in this space where we exist.  Resources, knowledge, and motivation are flowing within us, and we are needed at this crucial moment.  Yes, some of the conversations are difficult when we truly listen to the unheard voice.  Some of the conversations are painful and emotional but they are needed.  Our ability to impact change will depend on our ability to listen to the voices of the unheard.  Our ability to impact change will require that we add a chair where one is missing or move a chair when it’s in the wrong place.  Our ability to impact change will require linking values to actions whenever we can.  

Let’s continue to strive to identify and respond to opportunities that require our attention.

Willette, Director
Membership Outreach and Diversity