Actions are dictated by values. Identifying organisational values - both proclaimed and actual -
will assist an organisation to ensure that most, if not all, its actions are commensurate with these
values, and enable it to put in place a robust structure to support the ‘operationalisation’ of its
Many governance and CSR problems for multinationals and companies trading far from their
home base, for example, arise because of differing value systems. A values audit helps an
organisation to establish clear guidelines about the limits of acceptable behaviour which are
consistent world-wide, while recognising where appropriate local social differences. In other
words, a values audit articulates the core values of an organisation, and assesses the
consistency of their internal and external application: internal with respect to what the company
or organisation says about itself in its various documents, such as statements about mission and
conduct; external with respect to how they act in their host societies and internationally.
A values audit always begins internally, with a review of ‘paper’, ‘processes’ and ‘people.’ The
findings of the audit are then tested out with stakeholder groups, to ensure that the values base
is one which is shared by, or at the least acceptable to, key stakeholders. The results provide
important management information, and can (and ideally should) be used to report on the
organisation’s social and/or governance performance, either as part of the Annual Report or as a
In this assessment, you are asked to conduct a values audit of an organisation with which you
have had some association. It could be a large company, a family business, a school, a hospital,
a not-for-profit organisation. It could be any organisation that provides a service or conducts any
form of social activity that involves:
• Some form of statement about what it does and its commitments. This could be a
company or organisational mission statement; or marketing material; or any document in
which the organisation defines its commitment to abiding by the law, or certain moral
codes, or specific cultural or communal commitments. In other words, anything that
articulates what the company/organisation stands for with respect to governance and
social responsibility. It might be as generic as saying, as Google does, “do no evil”, or as
specific as BHP Billiton’s commitment to observing best practice in land remediation of
• Some level of financial management and accountability. This can be at a very high level
for a large company, or very modest in a small family business. Either way, there has to
be some level of financial or resource accountability, and some level of responsibility for
what the organisation does in the conduct of its activities;
• A defined set of services or products. That is, the organisation’s outputs – what it offers
its client or customers;
• A customer or client base. There must be some customer or client base for the audit to
make sense, and this needs to be identified, namely, who the organisations serves or
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• Some level of management structure or identifiable managerial accountabilities. For our
purposes, an anarchic group of people just doing things for the sake of it to help others,
or themselves, but with no formal structure, is not a suitable subject for this exercise.
There must be some specific roles and accountabilities, even if poorly defined.
First read the sections below to give you a better idea of the big picture, so to speak.
Note: you are NOT expected to conduct a full values audit with detailed interviews and indepth
analyses of organisational documents.
What you are asked to do is a ‘mini-audit’ in which you select an organisation and:
1. Give an overview of the organisation – what it does and how it promotes itself to its
shareholder (where relevant) and stakeholders, through official documents, policies,
procedures, and advertising. Provide evidence in the form of attachments, but only
important documents, or selections that make your point. Don’t go overboard with
attachments and evidence; just enough to make your point, and no more.
2. Clearly state the ‘advertised’ values of the organisation – what it says it stands for.
Where these are unclear, try to tease them out.
3. Describe the processes the organisation has in place that promote, monitor, review,
action its value commitments. Again, you can’t do everything, so be selective. In your
general overview of the organisation’s value commitments, you can state that the
organisation is committed to x, y and z, but focus only on z, for example. In other words,
don’t be too ambitious. You don’t have much time to complete what could be quite a
detailed exercise. So focus on something that is representative of the company’s values
commitment (or otherwise!).
4. Review the history of the organisation over the recent past, say, 5 years. You don’t have
to be rigid about this. If 10 years is a more appropriate frame of reference, then that’s
fine. What you are looking for here is the extent to which the company has been true to
its commitments. What evidence can you find one way or another? Remember,
corporate governance and/or CSR undertakings are major value commitments of an
organisation, and are absolutely central to this assessment.
5. If possible, interview a few key stakeholders for their views. This is not always possible,
but may be very relevant in some circumstances. This is up to you. You do NOT have to
interview anyone. But if you can, and if it is relevant, then this would be a good way to get
more data on the organisation’s fulfilment or otherwise of its value commitments.
6. Draw some conclusions about the company’s integrity (more on this below). In other
words, discuss what you have found. No need to be definite or definitive, since this is
only a mini-audit. But it can be indicative, and serve as the preliminary study for a much
deeper investigation. In other words, this is ‘audit lite’, so to speak, in which you do a
fairly quick and succinct review of an organisation to see if there is anything that would
lead you to look more deeply.
7. You need to be specific about the things you find that indicate organisational integrity,
and those that indicate organisational hypocrisy. You are not asked to solve the
problems you find, but once you have identified key issues, discuss them in light of the
key issues covered in the unit.
8. You do not have to provide heavy academic referencing, but where possible, draw on
examples from the readings and unit guide, and any other sources that you believe to be
relevant. Again, no need to go overboard. Just cite those sources and references that
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you have actually used; not a long list for the sake of impressing the marker – the
opposite will be the case. You will get good marks for authenticity and sound analysis.