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Lauren is an expert in starting a business. For more than 10 years, she’s taught courses to thousands of grad students and entrepreneurs. Lauren’s also coached hundreds of new business owners on formations, SMB software, and how to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Rebecca Michael has more than 20 years of experience writing for small business and ran her own content business. She was an early employee and content contributor at LegalZoom, specializing in educating SMBs on corporations and LLC business formations.
Company core values are strategic traits, ethics, behaviors, and beliefs that are fundamental to the company’s mission and existence and should drive the business. They should be what the company values most in its practices, offerings, and employees.
We share inspirational core value examples to inspire your own core value development for your business. We studied Fortune and Glassdoor’s 2021 best big companies to work for and how these companies have set values that are unique to their overall vision as a business. We selected companies that weave their values into the very fabric of the company: the way they do business, reward employees, treat stakeholders, and communicate to customers.
1. Hilton Brands
Hospitality, Integrity, Leadership, Teamwork, Ownership, Now
Hilton Brands has six words that comprise its values. The one value that isn’t all that self-explanatory may incite some curiosity, and that’s “Now.” Hilton actually explains this word quite nicely: “Now: We operate with a sense of urgency and discipline.” In the world of hospitality, urgency is definitely something the customer values, and Hilton shows customer awareness by building a value upon this trait.
The company also cleverly designs its values around an acronym of the company name, which not only makes it easier for employees to remember, but also for other various stakeholders like customers and shareholders.
Hilton clearly lives its company values. As stated by one employee review on Glassdoor: “Hilton is an incredible company that provides growth opportunities and a purpose led culture.” This is a true demonstration of the company’s Leadership, Teamwork, and Ownership values as experienced by its employees.
Employees who work at HubSpot have HEART:
Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, Transparent
It’s no wonder that on a website where employees can anonymously air grievances, HubSpot is the fourth highest-rated large company to work in 2021, according to Glassdoor.com. It’s been its entire value system around employees and the acronym HEART—and it shows. In a company where employees truly feel valued, HubSpot is also rapidly ascending the stock market, which is likely not a coincidence. In fact, HubSpot made Glassdoor’s top 20 list for seven years in a row as one of the best companies to work for.
3. Target Corporation
More for your money
The best shopping experiences
A healthy, happy and valued team
A brighter future
Ethical business practices
If you Google “Target values,” you won’t come up with much. That’s because Target has rejected the term “Values” and reframed it as “Commitments,” which are action-oriented and imply a corporate promise to the world.
These commitments house a wide variety of Target’s business practices, philosophies, operations, charity, and more—aligning them under a handful of correlating, valuable terms. The company focuses on guest experience, inclusion, pay equity and benefits of its team members, and charitable giving and causes.
Lululemon is becoming a hard company to ignore. Having launched in 1998, this yoga-inspired clothing brand’s revenue reached $1.5 billion in September 2021. One reason for this success may be that the company is living its core value of Inclusion, as it is fighting for increased minimum wage and expanded benefits for its workers, recently raising the minimum base pay from $15 to $17 for the majority of its stores in North America.
Lululemon’s value words encompass general areas, such as employee personal growth, innovation, transparency as a company, and connection through a shared community.
5. Marriott International, Inc.
We Put People First
We Pursue Excellence
We Embrace Change
We Act with Integrity
We Serve Our World
The Marriott values are very action-oriented. This format of “we ARE” and “we DO” helps the world recognize that it’s not all talk and that it intends and attempts to integrate values into its company culture and global hospitality brand.
One employee review makes it clear that the company touts, establishes, and lives its values within the employee culture: “Best employer I’ve ever worked for. Family atmosphere, awesome leadership, best core values, cares about employees.”
We are guided by:
An Entrepreneurial Spirit
Doing the Right Thing and Acting with Integrity
Respect for Each Other
A telecommunications company, Comcast is one of many great companies to work for that touts integrity as a core value, which is evidently reflected in its company culture. In its HR portal, the company elaborates very simply on what integrity means to it: “It’s as simple as doing what’s right and treating people the right way.” If that’s all there is to it, it makes sense that Integrity would be a core value of just about any company.
This guiding principle of integrity is reflected in employee satisfaction; a quick scroll down the Comcast Glassdoor page shows review after review singing the praises of employee treatment and internal company culture.
7. Wegmans Food Markets
Make a Difference
Wegmans boasts a fun fact on its Company Overview page: In 2020, more than 7,500 people contacted Wegmans asking for a store in their community. And if you’ve ever been there, you might have been one of those 7,500 people. The company truly demonstrates high standards in its in-store experience, including a vast and varied selection, extremely high-quality products, superior customer service, and genuinely happy-seeming employees.
It’s not just a facade, either. Employees love working for this values- and employee-driven family company, with one reviewer exclaiming on Glassdoor: “Wegmans is an awesome place to work! The benefits are great and it is such a fun place.” Employees with this level of satisfaction are clearly experiencing the company values of respect and empowerment from the top-down.
Outstanding value to markets & clients
Commitment to each other
Strength from cultural diversity
Financial services and consulting company Deloitte has been a highly esteemed leader in value-driven workplaces for years. And while its first few values are standard, and maybe a given, the fourth hits hard: a company value of strength from cultural diversity.
The company elaborates on this value nicely: “Our member firm clients’ business challenges are complex and benefit from multidimensional thinking. We believe that working with people of different backgrounds, cultures, and thinking styles helps our people grow into better professionals and leaders.”
The company not only lives this value in its business practices but is also a changemaker in DE&I across industries. In doing so, Deloitte is lighting the way for companies to follow an inclusive path that doesn’t just welcome diversity but thrives upon it, and that makes employees of all backgrounds, cultures, and thinking styles feel valued and heard.
9. Zoom Communications
Care: for Community, Customers, Company, Teammates, Selves
It’s been a good couple of years for Zoom. But the growth hasn’t inhibited the driving force of its one and only value: Care. This is another very internal-focused value, speaking to and addressing employees specifically. Many company values speak to the team and are therefore published on the Jobs, Career, or Employee pages of a company website. This broad overall value is easy to learn, remember, and practice for everyone within the company.
This culture of care at Zoom appears to start at the top with CEO Eric Yuan, included in Glassdoor’s top CEOs of 2021, with a staggering approval rating by employees of 97%. One employee raves, “Great benefits, perks, communication from leaders, and peer-level teammates. Eric is a truly great CEO who cares about employees as individuals … I believe in him as a leader.”
10. Ernst & Young LLP
People who demonstrate integrity, respect, teaming and inclusiveness
People with energy, enthusiasm and the courage to lead
People who build relationships based on doing the right thing
The Ernst & Young approach to values is to frame them as descriptive traits that define every member of its over 282,000-employee global team. With a global presence and long history of being a Big Four accounting firm, its professional employees are a reflection of its values and have continued as a large firm with great success.
Everything we do supports creativity and we are driven by our five values:
1) We are determined
2) We are connected to our consumers and to each other
3) We are inclusive
4) We are expressive and fun
5) Most of all, we are a family
Vans was rated No. 29 among Glassdoor’s 100 of the best companies to work for in 2021, and its values help make that rating a reality. Any company that emphasizes some form of employee satisfaction and expression in most of its company values is going to help foster a satisfied workforce if it follows through on its promise.
Vans seems to apply these values to its company culture—one of the employee reviews offered a glowing commentary: “Fantastic discount. Great people. They focus on growth and development early on and they have very supportive managers.” This definitely sounds like connectivity, inclusion, and family values at work.
Teamwork – Courage – Respect – Integrity
Sanofi is a booming global pharmaceuticals company with more than 100,000 employees and over $42 billion in worldwide revenue. What’s special about the company’s values, while they aren’t shockingly original, is how the company applies them to make employees feel valued.
Tucked into the “About Us” section on Sanofi US’s site is a section called “Inside Sanofi,” which features employee recognition, awards, spotlights, personal stories, and family photos. This is quite the demonstration of a value-driven company that shows, through its actions, value for teamwork and true respect and integrity toward its employees.
Integrity without Compromise
We Care and Give Back
Financial software services company Intuit offers quite a masterclass on values on its Intuit Operating Values landing page. Here, it neatly couches its values before listing them: “Our operating values are core to our culture and define how we operate. Our values keep us grounded in the most important areas that define who we are and how we operate — internally and in the world.” This is a great introduction to values-based business in general and how values can drive a company for purpose and not just profit.
If you can spare two minutes, watch the company values video to learn directly from CEO Sasan Goodarzi the importance and application of values to a company’s success.
Do the Right Thing
For an explosive new company whose published purpose is to: “Help people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives,” CoverMyMeds is also disruptive when it comes to values.
It’s a nicely said preface to the company values to say, “It’s who we are, not just something we write on the wall.” This is the true point of values and value statements—they sometimes hang around looking good, but its value is only surface-level if they’re not lived, practiced, and experienced inside and outside of the company.
The values that drive us underscore our commitment to:
Leadership by Example
Integrity and Transparency
Infosys is an India-based, multinational digital services and consulting company. The preface to the company values is another catch-all umbrella that summarizes a list of values: it allows company employees to sleep with a clear conscience. This is because all of its values are based on integrity, honesty, and ethics.
One way the company demonstrated this was in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic amongst its nearly 250,000 global employees. As one worker put it, leadership is clearly keen to apply company values to the way they operate through conflict. “During the current global situation, I believe that Infosys has put the well-being of [its] employees above corporate profits, and I believe [that] we, as an organization, will emerge from the other side with a stronger bond between employees and management.”
16. Trader Joe’s
Customer Service that Wows
The store is the brand
We’re a national chain of neighborhood grocery stores
While we could easily dissect each of Trader Joe’s values and tie them back to its success, for now, it’s just worth pointing out the Japanese word that is a value in itself: kaizen. Kaizen is the Sino-Japanese word for “improvement” but, in business, has earned its reputation and definition as “continuous improvement.”
In the context of a company’s value, leadership continues to steer the company toward continuous improvement and betterment of the products, brand, store experience, and customer service. All of us could benefit from “kaizen” as a core personal or company value.
17. Travelers Insurance
Honesty – Integrity – Accountability
Because insurance is such a profitable and necessary industry in the U.S., an insurance company without values can mean disastrous results—and Travelers Insurance has no shortage of company values. While its three marketable values are simply honesty, integrity, and accountability, it has over a dozen drivers of value that each warrant their own webpage and explanation. This just goes to show that there’s no single way to approach company values and communicate them.
One employee gives a shoutout to the company’s value of Diversity and Inclusion in a Glassdoor review: “They promote diversity, inclusion, and equality. They provide competitive pay and benefits and promote work-life balance.”
18. E.&J. Gallo Winery
Integrity – Respect – Humility – Innovation – Commitment – Teamwork
Innovation is a sensible pursuit and value for tech companies, finance companies, and retailers that can always be seeking a cutting edge. But what does innovation have to do with wine production, an industry over 8,000-years-old?
California-based E.&J. Gallo Winery explains its value of innovation like this, “Place great value on big ideas … Challenge the conventional way of doing things — never be satisfied.” And so it is never satisfied, and it demonstrates innovation both in the ways it makes wine and the way it does other business.
It has a significant commitment to sustainability and environmentally conscious and innovative production, which includes land conservation, energy efficiency, agri-business incubation, and water stewardship initiatives.
19. Discount Tire
Treat People with Respect and Fairness
Care for Those in Need
Always Do What is Right
When we think of fun and good times, tires don’t typically come to mind. However, Discount Tire, ranked the Glassdoor 2021 86th best company, enjoys challenging that perception.
It applies its sixth value, “Have Fun,” to its entire outward-facing brand story with the commercial and persona of an angry older woman who brings an unsatisfactory tire back to the retailer and chucks it through the plate-glass store window.
This case study of successfully bringing fun and humor to an otherwise unremarkable product is an example of a company applying a value to its marketing, branding, and tongue-in-cheek company culture. Learn the backstory of the 1976 “Little Old Lady” commercial that still airs today.
20. MD Anderson Cancer Center
Caring – Integrity – Discovery – Safety – Stewardship
As both the top Cancer Hospital in the US and Glassdoor’s #90 best place to work in 2021, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s values are clearly worth paying attention to. When a company in such a delicate, stressful, and fraught specialty is so successful with customers and employees alike, there’s something in its core values that is shining through.
“Care” and “Caring” should be an obvious value of any healthcare provider, but it isn’t. MD Anderson elaborates on this value with a few bullet points:
- By our words and actions, we create a caring environment for everyone.
- We are sensitive to the concerns of our patients and our co-workers.
- We are respectful and courteous to each other at all times.
- We promote and reward teamwork and inclusiveness.
It’s clear that employees agree and experience this valued culture of care, which thereby helps them deliver care and kindness to their patients in need. As one reviewer plainly put it: “Great culture. Great place to work.”
Having company values is important, just like having a business philosophy is important. As demonstrated by the above companies and the examples they set, it’s especially important to have values that are meaningful, authentic, and integral to the company’s vision, mission, direction, motivation, and daily drive. A company that is true to its values comes across as more sincere, trustworthy, purpose-driven, socially conscious, and consistent. A company that lives by its values, in turn, adds value to its brand, workforce, and bottom line.