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Values and the bottom line

Suzy Bibko is editor of Families in Business.

Family values can be an extremely emotive subject for many people. Just look at how so many issues the world over can result in extremists taking action in the name of 'family values': abortion centre bombings, gay rights protests and religious intolerance. We hear that 'traditional' family values need to be upheld – but whose traditions? What is interesting about this argument is that it is assumed there is a universal set of values applicable to everyone. And that, of course, cannot be possible in such a fragmented society. After all, we are all unique individuals, and everyone knows that no two people, much less families, are the same.

However, when it comes to business, family values seem to take on a different role. First, families often take a methodical approach to values, discovering what those values are – and there may be different sets of values for the family and business. Then they decide how to impart the values to the family and business members: through family assemblies, family constitutions, corporate mission statements, family retreats, company literature and the like. While a family may decide that a core set of values needs to be established, it is for the purpose of building a positive, long-lasting business and atmosphere for the family, employees and stakeholders, rather than as a selfish or dictatorial measure. The result is usually a strong, successful, happy family and business. And one that lasts for many generations.

In this issue of Families in Business we take an in-depth look at values and the roles they play in family business. In our special report on values, several members of family businesses and family offices share their first-hand experiences of values in their businesses. Peter Thomas of LifePilot also tells us how to lead a value-driven life – something that can be extremely difficult for today's high flying CEOs. We also hear from several successful family businesses: toy-maker Hasbro's last family member explains why it is important to keep family tradition alive in the company; hotelier Outrigger Enterprises shares how it directly incorporates Hawaiian cultural values into its growth strategy; and the makers of Taylor's Port recount how their dedication to family values and their roots helped shape their brand expansion. Our finance, business and governance sections examine issues surrounding preservation of wealth, employee retainment, socially responsible investing, international expansion and long-term business strategies – all of which are affected and shaped by values.

Albert Einstein once said, "Try not to become a man of success, but rather, try to become a man of value". A noble sentiment from a brilliant thinker. However, when it comes to family business, I think there's no reason both success and value can't be achieved – in spades.

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