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Companies have vision statements that summarize their values for a reason — employees who get on board with your mission and vision work hard for you, and have engaged employees, according to the Dale Carnegie Institute. Companies outperform competitors by up to 202%. Yet, as the current focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) shows, times change. You’ll need to update your vision to keep pace with this new ESG focus, but one word may be all you need to improve your relevance and impact.
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concise and built in everything
Good vision statements are memorable. To achieve that memorability, your best bet is to keep your new, ESG-oriented vision statement as concise as possible.
Take Cisco. If they had written something like “To build voice-over-IP systems that use the most advanced Internet connection technologies, are the best in the industry, and return great value to our shareholders,” people might not have uttered the words. More than a quick skim before moving on to something more interesting. Their real vision, “transforming the way we work, live, play and learn,” is to the point and free of jargon. It turns out that Cisco wants to be a change agent and that it understands the importance of connection and communication in our world.
At Merchants Fleet, we were the first to follow this rule of simplicity, consolidating the many vision statements we have for different areas of business into just one: “Enable the free movement of people, goods and services.” To later update this for ESG, we added a word: “responsibly.”
Once you have a concise vision statement that includes some ESG values, your work is not done. Then you have to go back and look at all the training and messages from your company. Are there ESG values there too?
Making sure the values are consistently visible in everything you do supports buy-in to the vision statement because it shows your team that you’re serious about the ESG shift and committed to a real action plan. Going to follow it up with. At the same time, the concise vision statement helps employees understand why you’re coming to the training and is conveying the message the way you are.
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Perspective and keeping promises matter
When we added the word “responsibly” to our approach to ensure this happens, we recognized an important point – “responsibility” means different things to different people.
If our business suddenly got rid of every gas vehicle we had, it would seem responsible to the customers who are behind fully electric cars, vans and trucks. But this would seem irresponsible to customers who do not have many charging stations or who have to travel a distance that is still beyond the range of an electric vehicle (EV). For one of our customers, it didn’t make financial sense to try to set up EVs infrastructure.
Similarly, our company’s diversity profiles are very different in New Hampshire and Chicago. In New Hampshire, our profile is at 5% diversity, still higher than the New Hampshire average. In Chicago, we’re 45% diverse, simply because that area is more diverse overall. The 45% diversity requirement would seem doable in Chicago but is nearly impossible in New Hampshire.
So when you adapt to ESG, be careful in what word or terms you add and avoid absolutes, even if you push for something that is still specific. The words should be widely acceptable and understandable, but they should also be flexible enough that you can still meet the needs and expectations of your entire base. They shouldn’t alienate anyone, including your employees.
Likewise, make sure your mission statement is realistic and attainable. If you choose words that make it impossible to deliver on your promise, customers will see that you are not doing what you said and will lose confidence in you. Let’s say you are an airline company. If you added the phrase “on time” to your mission statement, you would be opening the door to a vast number of complaints, as there are too many variables surrounding airlines that promise you’ll hit the point perfectly every time. do. If you add “safely”, though, it’s pretty easy to achieve consistently.
The best practice is to aim for something that is timeless and just a little better than what you had. Leave the buzzwords and trends on the shelf because the more you change your vision statement, the less memorable or sticky it will be.
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The journey, the action, and the accountability are all ongoing
Considering that there is a connection between your ESG vision statement and your company’s practices, consider your vision statement an ongoing journey. Review it regularly to make sure it still works for you in the authentic way.
Make sure you have an execution plan and accountability whenever you make changes to your statement and add more words. When we added “responsibly” to Merchants Fleet’s vision statement, we were clear that we were adding an ESG team. But your moves may also involve reorganizing, training more, or developing checks and balances. Expect a summary of what you’re doing and what results you’re getting in the report. The rule is to understand that you are signing up to develop new goals and take additional action with anything you add.
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ESG can provide both sustainability and positive change
Even though ESG is getting more press than ever before, it’s something great companies have always practiced, and the need to connect your ethics to your action will always be relevant. ESG values can powerfully propel your business across generations. Plus, they can help you continually figure out how you can still be a great help to everyone around you. If you integrate those values into your vision statement, which is the foundation of everything you do, you’ll get the buy-in needed to drive positive change.