Ethically dubious business? That's no reason not to talk about your corporate values

Our series on how (not) to write your corporate values continues with some advice on how to make out you’re ethical when you’re in a morally dubious business. Here's a great example:

INTEGRITY, TRUST AND RESPECT We believe in operating with integrity, trust and respect, both as individuals and as a family of companies.

PASSION TO SUCCEED We demonstrate a passion to succeed in all aspects of our businesses.

EXECUTING WITH QUALITY We believe in executing with quality by understanding and responding to our companies' adult tobacco consumers' preferences.

DRIVING CREATIVITY INTO EVERYTHING WE DO We believe in driving creativity into everything we do, resulting in innovation and continuous improvement for our companies' adult tobacco consumers and our business processes.

SHARING WITH OTHERS We believe in sharing with others, unleashing the tremendous resources of our people as a force for good into the communities in which we live and work.


1. Be sure to include a couple of touchy-feely corporate clichés in there. Passion, integrity and family are a good start.

2. Give your legal department a hand in crafting your values. That way nobody will be in any doubt that your companies' adult tobacco consumers are all fully consenting grown-ups who make a rational decision to benefit from your innovation, continuous improvement and understanding of their preferences.

3. Ignore the fact that, outside of the boardroom, most ordinary people can’t quite shake the negative overtones of the word “executing”. Particularly when you’re discussing adult tobacco consumers' preferences.

4. Make your employees sound deranged (or slightly clumsy) by insisting they are always “driving creativity into everything we do”.

5. As with “executing”, don't let the negative overtones of the rather alarming word “unleash” prevent you from incorporating it into your values. Rabid dogs, pent-up fury, torrents of swear words and dangerous weapons. All are fitting comparators for executives in the macho world of innovation and continuous improvement for adult tobacco consumers. Actually, they probably are.