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The True Values of a Company and the True Value of People

19 /03 /2020
The true values of a company and the true value of people

A company is more than just a physical and virtual space; it is also a human space where people must be cared for. Organizations like to say that their people come first. Is this really true?

Remedios Torrijos Zurita, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership at IE Business School.


In their messaging and in the values they promote, most businesses use humanistic rhetoric to imply that people and their talent are “the center and the heart of the company.” Many organizations claim that their “workers, employees, and professionals are the true protagonists.”

However, in order to weather the current coronavirus crisis, the first thing some companies have done is lay people off, as if there were no other alternative. If people truly come first, why are they the first to go when things get tough?

A “manageable” cost

The reason, as Block (1990) explains, is that for most organizations the most manageable way to reduce costs is to reduce staff. Therefore, what these companies prioritize in their management is profitability, not people. People are fired for economic reasons, in spite of the pain and damage it causes.

From an action like this one, according to Schein (1998), we can draw two further conclusions. The first has to do with the true values of the company and the true value provided by people. As the author explains, the practices that companies follow when difficulties arise, especially problems that threaten their survival, reveal their true presumptions about the value of people and their consideration of human nature. The second conclusion is that situations of adversity and difficulty endanger an organization’s true hierarchy of values and undermine the consistency between what is said and what is done.

Economic value and social value

This coronavirus crisis is a good opportunity to show that your company takes care of its people, so that its people can take care of the company, and so that all of us together can take care of society. Without a doubt, what this crisis and home-quarantine period have revealed is that society is the driver of the economy.

For the business world to operate, many people need to be willing to participate and “play the game.” People are the social producers of their companies, but they are also the recipients of companies’ output. Without people working and interacting, there can be no business. Companies cannot dissociate themselves from people’s well-being and quality of life. In times such as these, companies must play a role in the community’s solidarity with regard to future unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth, and trust in people-centered business management.