Step 2: State company purposes and agree on company values

Corporate responsibility (CR) is gaining an increasing significance for businesses worldwide.

Step 2: State company purposes and agree on company values

(click to view practical examples)

Responsible business conduct is built upon the values and goals of the company itself, as well as on legal requirements and stakeholder expectations. Business principles commonly include a statement of mission, values and operating principles. All companies should consider articulating their core values (e.g. honesty, respect for people etc.) as an underpinning for their own principles.


Company values and goals

A company’s approach to corporate responsibility should be based on its goals and core values. These values will provide standards upon which the company can base its approach to doing business and its relations with its employees, shareholders, customers, business partners, and the public at large. The company’s history, corporate culture, and overall philosophy will also play their part. Company values are bound to reflect the specificity of its core business, so that they can be applied in the company’s operating principles. Companies may find it advisable to focus on a small number of core values. They should also be mindful of the distinction that may exist between a company’s own core values, and the values of the environments in which the company operates and which the company should seek to respect.

The starting point for identifying the values that suit a particular company should be a management assessment that takes account of employee views. It may also be useful to include the views of other key stakeholders, such as shareholders and customers. As part of this process, a company may also wish to consider how it is perceived by the broader public and what are the public’s expectations of the company. These internal and external views can be based on public opinion research tools such as surveys or focus groups.

Once a company has reached agreement internally on its mission and core values, it may chose to express them either through a mission statement or a set of business principles or both. These elements should be consistent in substance and style.

Company websites usually feature a mission statement in the form of a brief description of the company and its core business activities. These can usually be found on the home page of the website or in sections entitled “mission statement” or “about us”.

Companies, especially SMEs, seeking examples of how to express their purpose and values are encouraged to visit the websites of global companies in their sector of activity, as the experience of these companies may be very relevant to their own. See for example ( It may also be useful to see how global companies in other sectors have chosen to do so. The websites of sectoral business organizations may offer further guidance on how companies in their sector can approach corporate responsibility.

While the experience of other companies will be very useful to get started, there is no substitute for a process of consultation and communication within the company, taking into account the views of other stakeholders as appropriate.

(click to view practical examples)