Good question Heath, and yes, we do practice our form of blended values at Seventh Generation. It is a fascinating challenge to integrate this notion into the company because to a large part there are so few rules, benchmarks and clearly defined road maps.
The first thing I would say is that Seventh Generation is far from perfect, and a core value and part of our corporate responsibility is being open about our failures and shortcomings. We do practice a variety of techniques to help ensure that we behave in a manner that is in keeping with the core values we have established. Developing a culture that both understands and is committed to these values is essential. Articulating the behaviors that are consistent with these values and creating benchmarks to monitor our behavior against our values is a discipline we are just learning to master.
While excellent employee benefits, community involvement, charitable donations, outstanding customer service and products that exceed customer expectations are all important, if not critical, we practice “blended values” based upon a new set of metrics: how honest and complete is the communication between staff members as well as with customers and other stakeholders; how safe is it to challenge your boss (how many people are willing to show up and sit across from me and let me know that they feel that my own behavior seems to conflict with our stated values?); what employee turnover is like, and why are people leaving; to what extent do our products and our entire company deplete the planet of non-renewable resources, create greenhouse gasses or produce solid waste, and so on. These are just a few of hundreds of questions we ask and track on a daily basis.
I would also say that I wholeheartedly agree with Jed Emerson: “We need to have a fundamental shift in our understanding of the nature of value.”