The Oxford Character Project – in collaboration with the Forward Institute – has launched a report publishing the findings of the UK Business Values Survey 2022, which is the first significant survey of its kind in 7 years and updates the Maitland Report of 2015. Analysing data from 221 companies, the majority from the FTSE 350, the survey explores what companies mean by their values as well as what those values are. It shows that the value referenced most frequently by businesses is collaboration, followed by integrity, excellence, customer service, and creativity.
The importance of values has been brought into stark focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a period of extreme stress, companies with clear and living statements of their values found them invaluable as a tool to guide decision-making and navigate the crisis. As the UK moves into an era of living with COVID rather than one of crisis, many people are scrutinising the values of companies more intensely as consumers and as employees. They are making more choices based on the day-to-day values they experience in their interactions with businesses. In this context, this report is a timely contribution to an increasingly important topic.
The survey reveals the increasing importance of personal and emotional aspects of organisational life. Empathy, passion, and courage are among the most prominent values in UK businesses but did not feature significantly in earlier reports.
At the bottom of the table, curiosity, humility, hope, and gratitude seem to be significantly undervalued. In spite of research supporting their importance for personal flourishing and organisational performance, these values are hardly mentioned. Are the companies articulating these values outliers or are they at the vanguard of change?
Future studies and publications from the Oxford Character Project in 2022-23 will build on the UK Business Values Survey, providing insight into important virtues of character and organisational ecosystems with a specific focus on leadership. Along with sector-specific insights on values in finance, technology, and law, the upcoming publications will share the results of research on character and responsible leadership in UK businesses, including an analysis of over 120 interviews with employees from over 20 UK companies, and a widescale quantitative analysis of the qualities associated with “good leadership” at different levels in organisations and across sectors.
The UK Business Values Survey 2022 was made possible through the generous support of the John Templeton Foundation. For any queries related to the survey, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.