Communicating company core values: Definition, examples, and why it matters (2024)

It’s not hard to find the core values of any organization.

They’re often featured, in large print, prominently on corporatewebsites.Posted on a plaque in the lobby of the corporate headquarters and on signs throughout company locations.Printed in employee handbooks. Honestly, they’re everywhereif you look for them.

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But living up to those values? Now that’sthe challenging partfor organizations.

Words are just that. Words. How does a company uphold its stated values with deeds that keep promises to employees, customers, and the community?Itbegins bycommunicatingthose company core values in ways that everyone understands andthen can act upon.

Only then will employees know:This is who we are.

What you’ll learn:

  • Twenty Examples of Company Core Values
  • Five world-leading examples of company values
  • Statistics Showing the Importance of Companies Living Their Values
  • Communicating Your Company Values
  • Company Culture Examples
  • Why Diversity and Inclusion Are Company Core Values
  • Customers expect companies to uphold their core values
  • Ten ways strong core values drive business success
  • Employer Branding and Company Values
  • How to Identify your Own Company’s Core Values

What are company core values?

As a definition, company core values are the clearly stated principles about the organization’s vision, mission, and principles. That way, everyone is aligned around a guiding philosophy to serve employees, customers, and the broader community.

That can alsodoubleas the definition of company culture.In many ways,valuesandcultureare synonymous.They’re bothaboutthe higheraspirations ofa company.The result isthe DNAfundamental to a company’s identity.

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Ensuring that everyone understands those ambitions requires great internal communication.The troubleistoo many companies assume the workforce knows what’s most important.(After all, it’s a plaque in the lobby next to the elevators!)Butbecause there’s a statement on awall,website, or handbook doesn’t mean employees get the message.

What’s needed is a clear, steady cadence of information that reinforces those principles. Let’s take a closer look into ways that organizations can thrive through communicating their core values.

Twenty examples of company core values

When distilled down to the basics, company values might be described simply as theGolden Rule.Treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, to paraphrasefilmmaker Spike Lee: Do the right thing.

Here’s a more expansive list of values that companies consider important.

  1. Integrity: Demonstrating honesty, transparency, and ethical behavior in all actions and decisions.
  2. Innovation: Encouraging creativity, continuous improvement, and the development of new ideas.
  3. Accountability: Taking responsibility for one’s actions and ensuring the achievement of goals.
  4. Collaboration: Promoting teamwork, open communication, and cooperation across the organization.
  5. Customer Focus: Prioritizing the needs of customers and striving to exceed their expectations.
  6. Excellence: Pursuing the highest quality in products, services, and performance.
  7. Respect: Treating everyone with dignity, empathy, and fairness, regardless of their background or position.
  8. Sustainability: Embracing environmentally responsible practices and working towards long-term success.
  9. Diversity and Inclusion: Valuing and promoting a diverse and inclusive work environment.
  10. Agility: Adapting to change and quickly responding to market needs and challenges.
  11. Empowerment: Encouraging employees to take initiative and make decisions that drive the company forward.
  12. Social Responsibility: Giving back to the community and promoting positive social impact.
  13. Passion: Cultivating enthusiasm, dedication, and a strong work ethic among team members.
  14. Trust: Fostering an environment of trust by being reliable, consistent, and transparent.
  15. Learning: Encouraging continuous learning and promoting team member growth to stay ahead in the industry.
  16. Leadership: Developing and supporting strong leaders who inspire and guide others.
  17. Balance: Promoting work-life balance and overall well-being for employees.
  18. Profitability: Ensuring the company remains profitable by being efficient and cost-effective.
  19. Quality: Maintaining high standards in all aspects of the business to ensure customer satisfaction.
  20. Safety: Prioritizing the safety and well-being of employees, customers, and the community.

Five world-leading examples of company values

Google (Alphabet), Apple, and Patagonia and Unilever each define their core company values in unique ways that reflect their organizational goals and culture. Here’s a brief overview of how these companies describe their core values:

Google (Alphabet):

Google (now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.) focuses on three primary company values, which are often referred to as “The Google Philosophy”:

  1. Respect the user: Google emphasizes putting the user first, providing the best user experience, and safeguarding user privacy.
  2. Respect the opportunity: The company encourages its employees to take advantage of opportunities to create innovative solutions and drive the company forward.
  3. Respect each other: Google fosters a culture of collaboration, open communication, and support among team members, regardless of their position or background.

More about company values at Google.


Apple’s company values are centered around six main principles:

  1. Accessibility: Apple designs products to be usable by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities.
  2. Education: The company supports and invests in educational programs to empower learners and educators with technology.
  3. Environment: Apple emphasizes reducing its environmental impact and promoting renewable energy and recycling initiatives.
  4. Inclusion and diversity: Apple strives to create an inclusive and diverse workforce that embraces different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas.
  5. Privacy: The company prioritizes user privacy and data security, developing products and services with privacy in mind.
  6. Supplier responsibility: Apple works with suppliers who share its commitment to ethical practices, fair labor, and environmental responsibility.

More about company values at Apple.


Patagonia’s core company values focus on four main principles:

  1. Build the best product: The company commits to creating high-quality, durable, and functional products while minimizing the environmental impact.
  2. Cause no unnecessary harm: Patagonia aims to reduce its environmental footprint by using sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing processes.
  3. Use business to protect nature: The company actively supports environmental initiatives and donates a portion of its profits to conservation efforts.
  4. Not bound by convention: Patagonia challenges the status quo, encouraging innovation and embracing unconventional solutions to achieve its goal

More about company values at Patagonia.


Unilever’s company values focus on the following key areas:

  1. Integrity: Unilever emphasizes the importance of acting with honesty, transparency, and fairness in all aspects of its business dealings. This includes interactions with employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
  2. Respect: The company values the unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of its employees, customers, and partners. Unilever fosters a culture of respect, where individuals are treated with dignity and their contributions are valued.
  3. Responsibility: Unilever is committed to being accountable for its actions and the impact they have on people and the planet. This includes prioritizing sustainability, ensuring ethical business practices, and addressing social and environmental challenges.
  4. Pioneering: Unilever encourages innovation, creativity, and a forward-thinking mindset. The company continually seeks new ways to improve its products, processes, and operations, embracing change and driving progress.
  5. Positive impact on society: Unilever aims to make a positive difference in the world through its products, services, and business practices. This includes supporting social and environmental initiatives, promoting health and well-being, and empowering people and communities.

By adhering to these core values, Unilever works to create a sustainable and successful business that benefits its employees, customers, stakeholders, and the environment.

More about company values at Unilever.


Here at first up we believe in the power of employee engagement and that to be successful, no one can be left behind. Therefore our company values reflect the importance of inclusivity, developing meaningful connections, and creating personalized experiences that connect us all.

  1. Every employee is an owner with responsibility and credit for our progress. When we take pride in our work, we perform better and feel more connected to our work.
  2. Leadership is in our build and we see change as a catalyst for improvement: Our leadership and innovation are essential for unblocking human potential and delivering meaningful results that help businesses thrive.
  3. We win as a team, committed to helping our coworkers and customers thrive. We know we are in this together and by being committed to our vision, our customers, and each other, we will win.

Learn more about Firstup and our company values or see our open positions here.

Statistics showing the importance of companies living their values

  • Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 to $605 billion per year in lost productivitySource: Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report
  • Productivity improves by 20 to 25 percent in organizations with connected employees.Source: The McKinsey Global Institute
  • One-third of global employees strongly agree with the statement: “The mission and purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.” By moving that ratio to eight in 10 employees, business units have realized a 51 percent reduction in absenteeism, a 64 percent drop in safety incidents,and a 29 percent improvement in quality.Source: Gallup’s Designing Your Organization’s Employee Experience
  • 95 percent of HR leaders said in a survey that employee burnout is “sabotaging workforce retention.”Source: Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace
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  • Only 53 percent of survey respondents felt their organizations are effective or very effective at creating meaningful work.Source: 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends
  • 46 percentof job seekers cite company culture as very importantwhenthey consider potential employers and88 percentsay it’s at least relatively important.Source:Jobvite
  • Employees who feel their voices areheard at workreport they arenearlyfive times (4.6X)more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Employees who say their company provides equal opportunities are nearlyfour times (3.8X) more likely to say they’re proud to work for their company.Source:Salesforce
  • More than half of employees (51 percent) are searching for a new job or watching for openings.Source: Gallup
  • 67 percent of survey respondents say they need more and better communication from their employer. Source: FleishmanHillard
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Communicating your company’s core values

How do you express your company values internally? Even the best, most well-plannedmissionstatements are useless if they’re hidden away and rarely discussed.

Company core values need to be on the big stage, in a bright spotlight, for everyone to see.

That’s whatexcellentinternal communication does. It continually brings attention to the company values with a steady cadence of reminders about what makes the organizationunique. As we’ll see,it’s alsohighlightingexamples of how the company is living those values.

But first, how do you get those in front of everyone?

Standard workforce communication tools

Here are some of the traditional ways that organizationsshare their values with the workforce.

  • Email
  • Intranet
  • Company website
  • All hands meetings/town halls
  • Digital signage
  • Printed posters/signs
  • Mailers/newsletters
  • Collaboration systems

The more places where employees can see or hear the company values, the better. (As they say in football parlance,you“flood the zone.”) A consistent cadence of communication will reinforce their importanceto everyone.

Also, each of us tends to get work-related information in different ways. For office workers, maybe email or intranet is the best way. For factor workers, perhaps the old break-roombulletinboard works best. It’s essential to use all the arrows in your quiver to get thosecompanyvalues in front ofthe entire workforce.

But there are limitations to these standard tools. That’s why companies are turning to a new wayofreachingtheir people with the information they need and want.

Modern internal communication tool

Consider the way that all of us receive information in our personal lives. It comes directly to us – usually on our mobile devices. We get alerts from news sources that we trust. We haveuser-friendlyapps. It’s an engaging experience.

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Well, employees expect their places of work to communicate with them the same way.We mayindeedcheck our email or the bulletin boards.But all of us are alsostaring at our mobile devices. That’s why digital Employee Communication and Engagement platforms have become the modern way for organizations to connect with their people.They break down information silos by:

  • Reaching every employee in real-time, wherever they are, on the devices they prefer – whether through a desktop app or mobile app – with the information they need and want
  • Enabling internal communicators tomeasure the reachof their content accurately, so they can understand who received the information – and then optimize their efforts
  • Giving leaders the confidence that the entire organization is hearing their messages, so everyone is aligned around companyvalues
  • Enabling employees to provide instant feedback through surveys and comments, so companies have a finger on the pulse of what the workforce is thinking

See Firstup in action

Companyculture examples

Because Firstup is the platform of choice of leading companies around the world, including 40 percent of the Fortune 100, we’refortunateto see some of the incredible ways that organizations infuse their strong company values intoeverything they do.


It’s powerful when top executives – especially CEOs– constantly remind employees what the mission, vision, and values are for the company.We’ve even seen leaders start every Town Hall meeting with a quick reminder of what drives theirorganizations.

But hearing from leaders is exponentially more difficult in 2020 when the pandemic has forced the world into lockdown. It’s also neverbeenmore important for leaders to be communicating their foundational corporate values to remind everyone how they play a partingetting through the crisis.It’salsonot just the pandemic. Employees want to know where the company stands onthesocial justice issues as protests against racial inequality have swept across the country. Employees expect their companies to live their stated values.

That’s why company executives use the Firstup platformto speak directly to employees.We’ve seen an explosion in “selfie videos” whereCEOs post regularlyto sharecompanyupdatesand how their values are helping them get through this challenging time.This ability was especially important when CEOsneeded to speak from the heart about why their companies were supportive of the passionate outcry forgreatersocial justice.

Why diversity and inclusion are core company values

There are two reasons.

  1. First, and foremost, a diverse and inclusive workplace is simply the right thing to do.Basic human decency is about creating a work environment where everyone is valued, respected, heard, and matters.
  2. It’s good business.

There arenumerousstudies that show more diverse companies have greater financial success. (Youcanread some excellent researchhereandhere.) It’s why81 percent of global organizations said that improving diversity and inclusion was high on their agenda, according to Mercer’s Let’s Get Real About Equality report. Merceralsofound that66percent of senior executives are actively engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives.

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At the same time, the pandemic has slowed efforts to make companies more reflective of our society.According toa pulsesurveyofdiversity andinclusion leadersby McKinsey, 27 percent of them report that their organizations have put all or most initiatives on hold because of the pandemic.

Yet those values are more important than ever.That’s because customers are watching.

Customers expect companies to uphold their core values

One of the main takeaways from 2023 is that people expect more from brands. They paid close attention to how companies behaved during the pandemic and if they fought for social justice. Do they genuinely live their stated values? Or are they just paying them lip service?

When brands disappoint them, they take their business elsewhere.

Here’s some eye-opening research about consumer sentiment in our current times:

  • 80 percent of consumers would prefer to buy from companies who treated their employees well through the COVID-19 outbreak. Source: KRC Research
  • 65 percent of survey respondents say the pandemic changed how they see companies as employers. Source: FleishmanHillard
  • 60 percent of survey respondents said brands must take a stand and speak out against racial injustice publicly. Source: Edelman
  • 56 percent say brands have a moral obligation for demanding action and 52 percent say they “owe it to employees.” Source: Edelman
  • 33 percent of survey respondents say they have already convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to thepandemic. Source: Edelman
  • 60 percent of respondents said that they will buy or boycott a brand based on if and how it responds to the current protests. Source: Edelman
  • 87 percent of consumers buy products based on company values. Source: Cone Communications CSR Study.
  • 43 percent of company reputation is attributed to CSR efforts. Source: CSR RepTrak Study.
  • 66 percent of global consumers pay more for sustainable goods. Source: Nielsen’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report.

The employee Experience directly impacts the customer experience. When employees feel like the company is living up to its values, customers notice.

Ten ways strong core values drive business success

  • Enhanced brand reputation: Strong core company values create a positive image, attracting customers and partners who share similar principles.
  • Improved employee engagement: Employees are more motivated and committed when they believe in the company’s values and purpose.
  • Higher employee retention: Staff are more likely to stay with a company that aligns with their personal values, reducing turnover costs.
  • Better decision-making: Clear values guide decision-making, ensuring consistency and alignment with long-term goals.
  • Increased customer loyalty: Customers are more loyal to businesses that prioritize their needs and uphold shared values.
  • Stronger company culture: Shared values foster a cohesive culture, enabling better collaboration and teamwork.
  • Greater innovation: A value-driven company encourages creativity and risk-taking, resulting in innovative products and services.
  • Enhanced trust: By consistently upholding values, a company builds trust among customers, employees, and stakeholders.
  • Positive social impact: Businesses with strong values contribute to society by supporting social and environmental causes, strengthening their reputation.
  • Long-term profitability: Companies with strong values are more likely to achieve sustainable growth and profitability through customer loyalty, employee commitment, and positive brand perception.

Employer branding andcompany values

Today,theEmployee Value Proposition (EVP)matters morethan ever. EVP is a way of thinkingabout what employees receive in exchange for their workplace performance. Yes, employees expect to be well-compensated for their labor. But increasingly, employees also want to feel good about their workplace. They want to know that, in some small way, they’re making a difference. The world is a better place because of their efforts.

And that brings us full circle back to company values.

The days ofbrandsnotliving by their values is over. In our interconnected world, news ofbadcorporatebehaviortravels in the blink of an eye on social media. And asteepprice is paid.Buttheorganizationsthattry to stand by their values – and makeamends when the inevitable missteps occur–are the ones most likely to succeed.

Communication, as we’ve seen, is the bedrock foundation ofensuringcompany valuesare understood. Everyone knows what’s expected of them. Everyone knows whatthey should expect from their company.Everyonebecomesaligned around the basic principlesof why the company exists.

And everyone thrives.

How to identify your company’s core values (A step-by-step guide)

Step 1: Gather a diverse team

Assemble a team representing different departments, levels, and perspectives within your company. Including various viewpoints ensures a well-rounded set of core values that reflect the entire organization.

Step 2: Reflect on your company’s purpose

Discuss the company’s purpose and mission. Consider why the company exists, the problems it solves, and the impact it seeks to have on customers, employees, and stakeholders.

Step 3: Analyze existing behaviors and practices

Identify behaviors, practices, and attitudes that are already present in the company. Determine which of these positively contribute to the company’s success and should be maintained or enhanced.

Step 4: Brainstorm values

Encourage team members to brainstorm values they believe are important to the company’s success. Create a master list of all suggestions, aiming for a comprehensive collection of potential values.

Step 5: Narrow down the list

As a group, discuss the brainstormed values, evaluating their relevance and importance to the company. Eliminate redundant or less significant values, and aim to narrow the list down to 5-10 core values.

Step 6: Define each value

Clarify the meaning of each core value by providing a clear definition. This will ensure everyone in the company has a consistent understanding of the values and their implications.

Step 7: Prioritize values

Rank the core values in order of importance. This will help employees understand which values take precedence in case of conflicts or trade-offs.

Step 8: Test the values

Examine real-life scenarios and decisions within the company to see if the proposed values align with actual practices. Modify the values as needed to ensure they truly represent the company’s guiding principles.

Step 9: Communicate the values

Share the core values with all employees and stakeholders, explaining their importance and how they should be incorporated into daily operations and decision-making.

Step 10: Integrate and reinforce values

Embed the core values into company culture by integrating them into training, performance evaluations, recognition programs, and decision-making processes. Regularly reinforce the values through communication, events, and leadership actions to ensure they remain a central part of the organization.

How much progress has your company made on diversity, equity and inclusion? We’ve assembled a comprehensive playbook with 7 plays to help you boost inclusion and engagement.

Free playbook: 7 steps to inclusive culture

I am an expert in organizational culture, communication, and values, with a deep understanding of how companies articulate and live their core principles. My expertise is grounded in extensive research and practical insights into the dynamics of successful organizations.

In the provided article, the author discusses various aspects related to company core values, including examples, statistics, communication strategies, and the impact on business success. I will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the concepts covered in the article:

Concepts Covered:

  1. Company Core Values Definition:

    • Company core values are clearly stated principles about the organization’s vision, mission, and principles.
    • They serve as the guiding philosophy to align employees, customers, and the broader community.
    • Core values are synonymous with company culture and are fundamental to a company’s identity.
  2. Examples of Company Core Values:

    • Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Collaboration, Customer Focus, Excellence, Respect, Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion, Agility, Empowerment, Social Responsibility, Passion, Trust, Learning, Leadership, Balance, Profitability, Quality, and Safety.
  3. World-Leading Examples of Company Values:

    • Google (Respect the user, Respect the opportunity, Respect each other)
    • Apple (Accessibility, Education, Environment, Inclusion and diversity, Privacy, Supplier responsibility)
    • Patagonia (Build the best product, Cause no unnecessary harm, Use business to protect nature, Not bound by convention)
    • Unilever (Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Pioneering, Positive impact on society)
  4. Importance of Companies Living Their Values (Statistics):

    • Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 to $605 billion per year.
    • Productivity improves by 20 to 25 percent in organizations with connected employees.
    • One-third of global employees strongly agree that the mission and purpose of their organization make their job important.
    • 95 percent of HR leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention.
  5. Communication of Company Core Values:

    • The article emphasizes the need for effective internal communication to ensure that employees understand and embody core values.
    • Traditional communication tools include email, intranet, company website, all hands meetings, digital signage, printed materials, and collaboration systems.
    • Modern internal communication tools, like Employee Communication and Engagement platforms, are highlighted for real-time, engaging communication.
  6. Company Culture Examples:

    • Leadership examples, especially during challenging times like the pandemic.
    • Utilizing modern communication tools to connect with employees.
    • Emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusion.
  7. Why Diversity and Inclusion Are Core Company Values:

    • Basic human decency and creating a work environment where everyone is valued.
    • Studies showing that more diverse companies have greater financial success.
    • The importance of making a positive difference in the world.
  8. Customers Expect Companies to Uphold Core Values:

    • Research indicating that consumers prefer companies that treated their employees well during the pandemic.
    • The impact of brand behavior on consumer choices.
  9. Ways Strong Core Values Drive Business Success:

    • Enhanced brand reputation, improved employee engagement, higher retention, better decision-making, increased customer loyalty, stronger company culture, greater innovation, enhanced trust, positive social impact, and long-term profitability.
  10. Employer Branding and Company Values:

    • The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and its significance.
    • The changing expectations of employees who want to feel good about their workplace.
  11. How to Identify Company Core Values (Step-by-Step Guide):

    • Gathering a diverse team, reflecting on the company’s purpose, analyzing existing behaviors, brainstorming values, narrowing down the list, defining each value, prioritizing values, testing the values, communicating them, and integrating and reinforcing values.
  12. Playbook for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

    • A comprehensive playbook with seven plays to boost inclusion and engagement.

In summary, the article covers a wide range of topics related to company core values, providing a thorough understanding of their definition, examples, impact on business, and strategies for effective communication and integration.

Communicating company core values: Definition, examples, and why it matters (2024)
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