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Competing with Values – A Lesson from Sysco Corporation

Sysco Corporation’s audacious goals for 2025

“Customers on a mass scale are seeking out vendors who share their values and are making purchasing decisions based on these shared values. Shared values are now a differentiator.”

Shane Jackson: Fostering Culture


At Values Coach, we work with partner organizations to create what we call a Cultural Blueprint for their Invisible Architecture™. We use a construction metaphor in which the foundation is core values, the superstructure is corporate culture, and the interior finish is workplace attitude. We call that the Blueprint behind the Blueprint™. When it comes to employee engagement and customer satisfaction, this blueprint behind the blueprint is more important than is the visible architecture of bricks and mortar.

In this construct, the foundation of core values defines who you are, what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for. The surest way to earn the long-term loyalty of employees and customers is to live your stated values. The surest way to lose that loyalty is to violate the values that are posted on a plaque in lobby. For exhibit A, see the pathetic apology ads being run by Wells Fargo in an attempt to erase memories of how the company has systematically violated their values by cheating its customers.

I recently keynoted the 2018 Multicultural conference of Sysco Corporation, a global leader in the food service industry. While there I heard a presentation by Sysco’s Vice President for Social Responsibility on the company’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) Goals for 2025. The goals relate to People, Product, and Planet. And they are breathtakingly audacious.

While not one of those goals relate to business development, customer loyalty, or corporate profitability, if Shane Jackson has it right in the quote above (and I believe he does), customers who truly care about ending poverty hunger (Sysco’s People goal), humane treatment of animals (Sysco’s Product goal), and protecting our environment (Sysco’s Planet goal) will be more likely to work with Sysco then with competitors. Price will in many cases be a secondary consideration.

There are many other examples of how doing the right thing also turns out to be the best business investment. In Toledo, Ohio ProMedica Health System has created a market-dominating presence with significant investments in revitalizing the non-healthcare parts of the community, including fighting to eliminate poverty and hunger.

Through its selfless commitment to employees affected by three hurricanes (Katrina, Harvey, and Florence), HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) has earned the loyalty of thousands of healthcare professional who wouldn’t think of working elsewhere.

In West Texas, Midland Health is partnering with the Midland Independent School District to make Midland the healthiest community in Texas. One of the key elements of this partnership is a commitment that every associate of both organizations will complete the Values Coach course on The Twelve Core Action Values.

Again, while that goal is not related to hospital performance, Midland Health has achieved significant financial and operational improvements as a result of the commitment. The hospital CEO and school system Superintendent recently recorded this 4-minute video for all new associates about the personal benefits of values training.

How about you? Does the place where you work compete on values and not just product or price? Are you building your career on a foundation of your values and not just chasing the next job or promotion?


At Values Coach our purpose is transforming people through the power of values and transforming organizations through the power of people. We do that by helping leaders build a stronger Culture of Ownership on a Foundation of Values.

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