We decided at GMPVC that we will not publish our own corporate values.
Framing corporate values is an awkward exercise. This is because most values should be either completely self-evident or should be proven via actions, not words. To illustrate these two cases, let’s use hypothetical corporate values for our own media fund, GMPVC.
(1) We view our portfolio companies as our most important assets and will not invest in direct competitors in the same investment period.
This statement should be so obvious and self-evident, that we would somehow feel that we would belittle its importance by publicizing it as a corporate value. Our portfolio companies are our most important assets, because we would not make a single Euro without them.
Investing in parallel in direct competitors would be a way to hedge bets, but we would be breaking the trust of our companies. We are not just providing our companies with the means to realize advertising campaigns; we strive to provide strategic advice on marketing, advertising and PR. We cannot provide this value to two competitors at the same time.
OK, so self-evident corporate values don’t make much sense. What is wrong with stating noble ambitions? Here our second example:
(2) We will invest only in companies that have a net positive contribution to society, the economy or the environment.
For us, this is an important investment criterion. Just as in the first example, many other companies have similar corporate values. However, saying it seems wrong and self-aggrandizing. One has to do it, not boast about it. You can look at our portfolio and judge for yourself.
By the way, we don’t want to criticize any companies, which have published their own corporate values. There may be some important reasons for the exercise, linked to unique circumstances the company is in.
What to do about corporate values? We propose to replace them with corporate promises. These are far more concrete and accountable. Many smart companies make corporate promises, such as giving a share of their income to a specific charitable cause. We respect them.
We don’t have a corporate promise yet, but feel that this would definitely be the way to go. Stay tuned for more on our promise(s) in coming months.