Whatever Happened To Core Values?

images-66Having read through a number of articles surround the Volkswagen emission scandal the one thing that really stands out for me was the comments of the now ex CEO, who said “…this kind of behavior, I can tell you of my heart, is completely inconsistent with our core values. Our values, the three core values of the brand are: value, innovation and in this context very important, responsibility.  Read more here.

I don’t think that you can claim that these are your core values when you deliberately manipulate data in order to fraudulently meet legal requirement.

And these words “I am endlessly sorry that we betrayed the trust” of millions of people, the CEO said. “To make it very clear: manipulation at VW must never happen again”, sound very hollow indeed.

I suspect he’s more sorry that they got caught than the fact that they did it.  This wasn’t a one time issue, a one time disaster, this was a systematic process implemented to increase sales of cars in the US.

This wasn’t a software error which allowed a few cars to pass the test unintentionally. This was software that was designed to control the emissions during the test and the turn off once the tests were passed  which then meant 11 million vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legal limit of pollutants into the air. Read more here.

I love the idea of core values. I think that when done correctly they allow people to align with companies that share the same values that they do.

But over the past few years, they look more like a smoke screen. A thin veneer to try and make companies seem more human, a marketing trick to get us to buy more of their wares.

Look at these record fines which have been handed out to some of the biggest corporate names, in spite of their values.

JP Morgan says ‘Being a good corporate citizen and operating with integrity is central to how we do business’. and yet they have paid $31billion in fines and legal fees since 2009. Read more here.  So much for integrity!

BP says it’s core values are “Safety, Respect, Excellence, Courage and One Team”.  Yes in one case along BP will pay a staggering $18.7 Billion dollar settlement for the Gulf Oil Spill. Read more here.  With the judge ruling that BP had been “grossly negligent” in it’s handling of the well. So much for safety!

GlaxoSmithKline says “Our core values are patient focus, integrity, respect for people and transparency. We expect our employees to share our values, to act transparently and with integrity at all times.”   Yet they have been find $3billion pleading guilty to  misbranding the drug Paxil for treating depression in patients under age 18, which the drug had not been approved for. Read more here.  So much for patient focus, integrity, respect for people and transparency!

Volkswagen is just another company in a long list who seem to have a wanton disregard for the own core values, the laws and the trust of the customers.

They are just appear to be interested in bottom line profits.

What surprises me, is that I am surprised by any of this.