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Corporate Values in the New Century

A quick thought as I race to beat a noon checkout time: If there was a common thread to the various presentations I covered at this year’s FMI, it would be this: It’s time to shed many of the constructs, practices and ideas dating to the last century and remake yourself around your values. And if you haven’t, well, you better.

This theme was set from the opening remarks of Stephen Covey on Monday, who argued that many practices covering employee relations date back to the industrial revolution and badly need updating for the information age. This was echoed when Kevin Kelley discussed the need to make physical changes in stores to respond to a need for experiential retail and context, including re-imagining Center Store and front end designs that had been in place for decades. A panel of recruiters and educators cited Covey’s speech when noting recent changes in how young people view the corporations they are willing to work for through the prism of their values.

Corporate values? That’s a major theme that wasn’t spoken about all that much last century, but has become a defining mark of retailers such as Food Lion, building its very business around ideals of diversity and inclusion; and Stop & Shop and Giant, becoming the consumer’s advocate for healthy foods rather than an indifferent warehouse.