How to be successful in business whilst retaining our values

Founders4School, women-led businesses

Karen Bird, Business Manager at Catering24.

There is an assumption that business success as an individual doesn’t sit within the heart of our own ethics.

People can often feel pressured in the workplace to compromise their ideals or sacrifice their ethics for the greater good of a business. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Women, in particular, often carry a sense of guilt for not adhering to our core values every minute of every day. We shouldn’t put ourselves under pressure to be perfect all the time, instead it’s important to recognise that one individual cannot change the world alone. However, there are deliberate actions that we can take to get the ball rolling for causes we care about and keep our ethics at the forefront of what we do everyday.

Sustainability & Efficiency

The idea of living a more eco-friendly existence has been prevalent in our personal lives for some time. But some businesses are still resisting the idea in favour of chasing bigger profits, or are still playing catch up due to late adoption of environmentally friendly practices.  

Consider your company in its current state. Could it cut back on how much printing goes on? Or perhaps you could implement a car sharing scheme? Even something as small as switching to energy-saving light bulbs or setting up a recycling scheme can be a great way to foster eco-friendly thinking in the workplace.

These initiatives are great from a marketing and PR perspective, as it shows that your business is forward-thinking and is at the forefront of positive change. Pushing for this kind of change also demonstrates to your employer that you are passionate and able to motivate a team – both highly desirable skills that are required for career progression.

Equality

We’re all well aware of the obstacles women face at work, and many of us have had to deal with them throughout our careers. If you’re further along in your career then you’ll remember the feeling of trying to get your foot in the door or get a seat at the table. Use your powers for good by helping others up the ladder. You could mentor someone who you believe has untapped potential, or advocate for someone who is working to make their voice heard.

It’s important to champion women’s contributions and to highlight each other’s successes as these may otherwise go unnoticed. Building this atmosphere of encouragement can build rapport and form a support network that lasts a lifetime.

Work-life balance

When it comes to work-life balance, by far the best way to impact this is to lead by example. Be seen to value your time away from the desk by taking a regular lunch break and honouring your contracted hours. Take care not to send emails at the weekend, as it’s important for both you and your colleagues to enjoy some downtime.

When it comes to your employees, encourage them to take annual leave after busy periods. We’re hearing more and more about ‘burnout’ at work and studies show that output decreases significantly after a certain amount of hours worked. Overworking can also lead to ‘absenteeism’ and increased employee turnover. Starting a conversation about employee wellbeing can be a great way to contribute to company culture as well as helping to highlight the needs of individuals.

Innovation

Innovation is often one of the things businesses strive for but fail to sustain over time. This doesn’t have to be the case! Help to create a culture of innovation by encouraging your team to think outside the box when problem-solving. If there is a process that you know is slow and laborious, try taking that time to think to come up with an improved solution. Not only does this get your creative juices flowing, it also builds your reputation as a critical thinker and someone who will always push for positive change.

Charity

Maybe you left school or university determined to put more into the world than you take from it, or have always felt you could do more to help those less fortunate than you. These ideals don’t have to take a back seat just because you’re at work! See if your company has a CSR policy and how you can get involved with any charitable work being organised. Or if nobody has considered it before, why not take the lead on developing a CSR initiative yourself? This can be an extremely rewarding aspect to your work, and championing a cause you are passionate about also looks great on your CV.

Faith

Whether you are religious yourself, or work with people who are, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to navigate faith in the workplace. From experience, one of the easiest things you can do is to simply have a conversation. Whether that be talking to your colleagues about how to support them during Ramadan, or speaking to your boss about providing a designated prayer space, these conversations help to create an open and friendly atmosphere that is accepting of all faiths.

These are just some of the ways you can harness your beliefs and use them to make a positive impact on the world and yourself. Rather than compromising on your values, use them as the driving force behind your own success and career progression.

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