The Must-Ask Question Before All Business Decisions: The E&C Pulse

September 30, 2020
Ben DiPietro

LRN has championed the importance of culture and values for more than 25 years, and has compiled a body of research that shows a strong connection between a good purpose-based, values-driven culture and success in the marketplace.

It’s taken a very long time, but the world finally is moving closer to our point of view.

A recent webinar by LRN and Refinitiv looked at how organizations can operate with integrity during times of crisis, and at its essence the talk was about articulating a worthy purpose, and then bringing it to life in the daily actions of everyone from top executives to part-time and hourly workers.

If the idea is to help people do the right thing, if everything you are doing is serving that purpose, then you are going to have the right culture and the right outcomes, LRN’s David Greenberg said during the webinar. 

“Most companies have a strong stated purpose,” said Greenberg. “But have they done the hard work to translate that into behavior? Most companies have a strong sense of value, but have they figured out the ways to activate those values in the way the company operates every day? The hard work here is to translate aspirational goals and statements into day-to-day leadership behavior and day-to-day activities in the company.”

Juan Ignacio Diaz, senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Siemens USA, said the social role companies play extends much further than shareholder profit considerations. While numbers are important, they aren’t enough to measure overall success, which he said in the case of Siemens means “are we serving really and making an impact?”

Take for example, climate change, a problem that won’t be solved “no matter how much money we return to our investors,” said Diaz. It will be confronted with clean energy and clean transportation systems, and a health system that accommodates the needs of the people. All of that requires a culture of trust.

“When we’re trying to build a culture in a company, we need to be focused not only on what we do, but how we do it,” said Diaz. “That is really hard, and is one of the biggest challenges.”

Ruben Alvarado, CEO of Metro SA, the public transportation system in Santiago, Chile, said the goal is to create a better quality of life for all people. That’s especially true for Metro, which is the only method of transportation for many people, giving the company a deep-rooted conviction to its purpose. 

“We need to go beyond transportation services, we need to create shareholder value for our passengers, for our communities, for our workers,” said Alvarado. “Doing the right thing is about values: what do you believe?…Ethics is part of our business strategy.”

The culture must be alive in every business decision the company makes, and Diaz said there is one simple question to ask before making any decision: Are you doing the right thing, or not? 

“Sometimes you are confronted with doing the right thing, or convenience. And if we are forced to decide between right and convenience, I would always take that option--do the right thing, even if it’s not convenient,” said Diaz. “If we want to be sustainable, that’s the kinds of decisions we have to make.”


                                                                                                        BEN DIPIETRO


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About the Author

Ben DiPietro

Joined LRN in October 2018 after 30 years as a journalist, including seven years at The Wall Street Journal, including Risk & Compliance Journal and was a creator of the WSJ Crisis of the Week column. In 2015 was named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics by Ethisphere Institute. Spent 14 years as a reporter in Hawaii, 11 with The Associated Press.

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