Here at Paulig, we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the establishment of the company’s values. The anniversary marks the time when we wrote them down and made them explicit - the values themselves had been ingrained in our company’s DNA much longer than a decade. Over time, the importance of our values has only grown. In today’s world, employees, customers, and other stakeholders increasingly look for companies with values that are relatable to them personally. Today more than ever companies are expected to take a stance, live and lead by their values.
When I joined Paulig four years ago, one of the things that struck me most was how people at this company genuinely know and live by the company values. I found it very impressive – it is in stark contrast to your average company in which values end up being little more than fancy words on PowerPoint slides and a slogan on the meeting room wall.
Getting their people to commit to and live by the values is certainly the objective of many companies. At Paulig, I believe we achieved it for two reasons.
One is that Paulig is a family-owned business and one that has been operating for a long time – 146 years now. Strong values and values-based leadership are natural for family businesses, and our values have guided us much longer than a decade, ever since the beginning.
The other is that once we then sat down ten years ago to put the values already ingrained in our DNA into writing, we did it together, involving the entire company. This ensured that the values reflect what people genuinely think and feel, and that they are relatable to everyone. Also, getting involved in creating the values fostered commitment, so additional effort was not needed to incorporate them in the organisation’s daily life.
In my view, leading a values-based company starts with the understanding that our people are our strength. They are what makes our company thrive. This is the shining light that guides our daily operations, our decision making, how we talk to each other and what kind of things are we interested in. But as committed as our people are to our values, they also expect the same from us as a company. This becomes even more clear when looking at the recent global events. After the long pandemic, followed by the war in Ukraine and the changes we have faced, our values and living up to them in our everyday work is more important than ever. We need to live and lead by our values and exemplify them through our actions.
It all comes down to respecting one another
From personal perspective, I find Paulig’s values very relatable. Here are some of my thoughts on each of them:
Stay Curious: This value reflects the relationship Paulig has always had with the surrounding world. We have always been interested in understanding what is happening not just within our industry but in the entire society. And I think this curiosity is a central reason to Paulig’s continued success; it enables us to stay on top of trends, anticipate consumer needs and renew the organisation.
Strive for Excellence: To me, this value reflects the mindset of “if you’re going to do it, better do it properly”. It’s the care we put in choosing what we want to engage in, and the dedication we put in when we commit to something.
Grow Together: It all comes down to appreciating everyone we work with and ensuring the benefits of any collaboration are always mutual. Besides employees, this extends to all of our partners and other stakeholders. For example, this value has always guided our work with our raw material suppliers. The aim is that everyone we work with should see it as a positive experience and feel that they are getting something good out of the collaboration.
For me as a person, respect is a key value – respecting fellow human beings regardless of their background, origin or other personal attributes. Everyone deserves equal respect, and everyone has valuable things to contribute. When you look at our company values, you can see that one the underlying personal values you can connect them with is respect. This is why it has been easy and natural for me to commit to Paulig’s values.
In the future, values will grow in importance
I strongly believe that in the future, prospective employees, consumers and other stakeholders will increasingly look for companies with relatable values and who truly live and lead by them. Increasingly, people will look for brands who have opinions, and who can offer a sense of purpose and added value to them. As we have seen in the world currently, companies are expected to take a stand on societal challenges and do the right thing – even if it’s difficult, complex and takes time.
It’s no longer enough to have a shiny economic track record. This is not to say that financial health and profitability aren’t important – of course they are. But the times when only profitability mattered are over. For a company to succeed, it needs to be able to gain a balance in how it is perceived as a whole – financial success is part of it but there are many others, such as sustainability and how the company relates to others. It needs to define and then communicate a picture of itself that is true. All of this is based on values.
In today’s world, people actively seek for companies that reflect their personal values or have values they can support. Every time I meet and ask a potential job candidate why they want to work for Paulig, they bring this point up one way or another. In many ways, the future looks unpredictable and volatile, which will make this aspect even more important going forward. Shared, strong values create meaningful connections and the base that unifies us. That’s how we keep our course when navigating through challenging and uncertain times, survive and thrive.