it is being increasingly realised that good corporate citizenship is anchored to the values in the business entity. In this perspective it may be worthwhile to reflect upon this introductory sentence and appreciate what exactly is good corporate citizenship and what do values mean in this context. When one looks for various growth drivers which fuel organisations to mature, diversify and expand, one perhaps would discover that at the root of it all, lies the seed of organisational vision and values that gives the organisation continuous sustenance to survive and succeed through time.

Corporate citizenship

In recent times, there is a growing recognition of corporate citizenship that goes beyond the boundaries of legal compliance, public relations and philanthropy which are seen intrinsically embedded in corporate governance, strategy, risk management as well as reputation and brand management. Value-driven performance and codes of conduct which are aimed at protecting corporate values and creating new values are gaining sharper focus.

In effect, the spotlight reveals that corporate citizenship is essentially about wealth creation and value creation within a clearly-defined ethics and value framework through:

  • The company’s core business operations in the boardroom, in the workplace, in the market place and along the supply chain
  • It's community investment and discharge of social responsibilities
  • It's engagement in public policy dialogues, advocacy and institution building
Value creation and values

Let me distinguish between value creation and values per se to start with. Value creation is the primary aim of the business entity. Value creation—for the customers through timely delivery of quality products and services; for stakeholders through increasing stock prices and better return on investments; and also value creation for the employees through better remunerations, growth opportunities and welfare, etc. is easily understood and once the drivers and sources are identified, managers and leaders focus capital, talent on the most profitable opportunities which maximise returns and provide for growth. There are quite a few other factors that fuel value creation which include technology, innovation, intellectual property, alliances, employee relations, customer relations, community relations, etc.

Corporate values, on the other hand, drive and create all the values mentioned above. Though people try to envisage corporate values in many forms, they simply are the ‘operating system’ of the organisation. Corporate values create stakeholder values and are the bedrock of growth and progress towards building the great organisations of the future. If one would visit the home page of any company along with the Vision, Mission statements, one would see a list of the company’s espoused values. For example, Suzlon Energy Ltd, where I had a stint in a senior leadership position had the following organisational values: Agility, Creativity, Adding Value, Committed and Integrity.

In fact every company articulates its list of values and spells it out as words like, Honesty, Boldness, Trust, Freedom, Team spirit, Modesty, Fun (Cap gemini) or as espoused by Oracle: Integrity, Mutual Respect, Teamwork, Communication, Innovation, Customer Satisfaction, Quality, Fairness, Compliance and Ethics.

Reinforcement of employee understanding and appreciation of corporate values is best achieved when companies hold employees across all levels accountable for practising the espoused values. The most popular tactic used to promote accountability is to link employees’ performance appraisals to their demonstrated behaviour reflecting corporate values. Nokia is one of the pioneers in embedding its values directly into the company’s performance management system.

Articulation and embedding the values into each pore and follicle of the organisation is important. But more important is to ensure its sustainability. Constant reinforcement through several ways as cited above is necessary for the values to remain alive and ticking.

Companies display these values prominently at common places like corridors, meeting rooms, lounges, dining halls in posters, some use digital displays as screen savers, and also conduct training programme for aligning the employees with these values. But more often than not I have been disappointed to see employees not even recalling the values, leave alone practising the same. We wanted to tackle the same at Suzlon through a different stepwise approach and after rigorous campaigning and following up achieved some success. The approach is given below.

Instilling the values: The 6-A approach

The process of total transformation can be seen through a step-wise realisation by taking a leaf from our ancient scriptures. Just as the ‘being’ transcends itself to finally merge with the ‘supreme being’ through the six steps of spiritual realisation, i.e., Salokya, Samiipya, Sayujya, Sarupya, Sarshthi and Kaevalya, the framework envisages the six stages of realisation for instilling values within the organisation, namely:

  • Articulation
  • Awareness
  • Appreciation
  • Adoption
  • Adaptation, and
  • Actualisation

Salokya refers to the first discovery by the ‘seeker’ that the ‘sought’ is there somewhere at close reach. This is the first stage when the desire to move up the path of realisation is born. In organisational context this refers to articulation and definition of the espoused values, the first discovery of the inherent values that are intrinsic to the organisational beliefs and the vision.

In recent times there is a growing recognition of corporate citizenship, that goes beyond the boundaries of legal compliance, public relations and philanthropy which are seen intrinsically embedded in corporate governance, strategy, risk management as well as reputation and brand management. Value-driven performance and codes of conduct which are aimed at protecting corporate values and creating new values are gaining sharper focus

Samiipya, which translates into the word ‘proximity’, depicts closeness between the seeker and the sought, while Sayujya signifies intimacy, where sense of hearing, sight and touch prevail.

The operating domains are cognitive and reflective. This is the phase when individuals are made aware of the values in definitive terms and they are able to recall them. This would lead to appreciating their true meaning in the context of their roles in the organization and the values get translated into demonstrable behaviour and actions.

Sarupya and Sarshthi denote the phases of adoption and adaptation. In the spiritual sense, the seeker sees the sought in multiple directions and dimensions and then tries to imbibe the infinity into the finite, the soul into the body and attain ‘oneness’. In the organisational context, the values are embraced, practiced and demonstrated in all activities and behaviour. The process is that of complete absorption and internalisation. That is when the state of actualisation is imminent. One starts operating from the affective domain.

The last stage of supreme spiritual realisation, Kaevalya takes one beyond the confines of any conceivable domain and the seeker feels that he/she has been totally accepted by the sought—and when infinity seeks the finite - and the sought seeks the seeker! That is when the individual becomes the source from where values originate and radiate across the cosmos.


Values give a sustainable competitive edge to organisations to survive in the present and propel them to become great organisations of the future. Dis-values disintegrate and destroy. While racing ahead to become good to great, organisations must recognise that these races are open-ended. They have starting lines but no finish line.

Organisations of the future, which are value based, chase horizons and become the best corporate citizens to be emulated by others.

by Dilip Mohapatra