6 Core Values That Drive a Respectful Workplace

Taking care of our employees should be the bare minimum. It is just a matter of doing what we should be doing.

Written by Payam Zamani
Published on Jun. 18, 2024
6 Core Values That Drive a Respectful Workplace
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I encouraged our entire management team to read the book Spiritual Enterprise by Lawrence M. Miller. Then we talked about it.

The book emphasized the noble origins of every person. And we decided, together, to honor the nobility of every person who worked for the company, at every level. We provided profit sharing to all employees, and we worked to create a culture of respect.

So, together, my management team and I spoke about the principles that were most important to us and were in line with the spiritual beliefs that were the animating force behind everything we did. Principles that had guided us. Principles that we felt were missing from the business landscape, and which we believed could set our business apart — to make it an example that, if we did well, might serve as a model for others to follow.

We memorialized the tenets into a culture manual and made it key to onboarding. It would serve as the founding document to which we would hold each other accountable, a set of rules and values which we would put into action every day in the workplace and beyond.

The principles we espoused aligned not only with how we wanted to conduct ourselves in the business world, but as conscientious adults and human beings. And while we have expanded upon them and allowed the definitions to grow as needed, they remain at the core of everything we do to this day.

6 Respectful Core Company Values

  1. Unity
  2. Intention
  3. Independence
  4. Love
  5. Truthfulness
  6. Justice

More on Company CultureThe Importance of Workplace Ethics


1. Unity

Every entrepreneur, business pioneer or tech innovator must be comfortable with getting things done in groups.

Accomplishments almost always come from teams, not lone individuals. We may have a great idea, or a new way of manufacturing something or a breakthrough creative concept, but the people we gather around us will help us bring it to reality.

No one accomplishes anything entirely on their own, so unity of intent and purpose is absolutely necessary. Entrepreneurs have to know how to build and sustain unity.


2. Intention

Why am I interested in starting a business? Why would we invest in one thing versus another? Why do we market in a certain way? The point is we need to check our intention every step of the way.

Are we being self-serving? Are we driven by greed? Are we motivated by power? If so, how can we change that so our intention is better aligned with the other values and principles we’re aiming to live up to?

For instance, when it comes to a current example that our society is beginning to wrestle with more and more: I’ve always said, AI doesn’t worry me; it’s the intention of the innovator that does.


3. Independence

Baha’is believe in the independent investigation of truth, that each person has the duty and the responsibility to determine what’s true and what’s not. That’s also one of the cardinal qualities of every good entrepreneur: an independent mind.

This means much more than the old “think outside the box” cliché. Instead, it means fostering creativity, the courage to depart from the crowd and the ability to truly think for ourselves. Independence also calls upon our willingness to question the status quo.


4. Love

I believe that humans are essentially spiritual beings, and that there is no greater power than the power of love.

The entrepreneur or businessperson who loses sight of that fact runs the risk of departing from reality. When we recognize and love the noble essence of every human, we acknowledge their highest aspirations and their most profound goals.

If we really love our employees and our customers, we’ll treat them as the noble beings they are. We will elevate them, and elevate us.

By the way, this love should not be limited to those I work with but also my clients, my community and even my competitors.


5. Truthfulness

Just about everyone in business will talk about the benefits of integrity, truthfulness and honesty. But surprisingly, these virtues stand out like a beacon when we encounter them because they’re rare.

Ask yourself this question: What would you be willing to say or do to close a major deal? What if that deal involved an enormous profit for you or your company? Would you shade the truth a little or even lie to get that deal signed?

Many people would, but I believe we should not ever go down that road because it’s always a dead end. A lack of integrity will only cause grief in the end — lawsuits, broken partnerships and financial ruin. Why trade a short-term advantage for long-term grief?


6. Justice

No entrepreneur or business person wants to be unfair (I hope), but few business environments truly offer level playing fields.

Unfairness seems built into business life in many ways: huge disparities between the lowest wage-earners and the executives; a big gap between compensation and job responsibilities for women and men; greed-driven approaches with little regard for impact on the environment and communities in which we live and work.

Fairness and equality at every level of a business will always pay off, and they should not be something left for another day. Our employees will be happier, our business partners will respect us, our quarterly results will thrive. Doing the right thing may seem expensive at first, but the fact is it actually makes a business more profitable in the long run.

At the end of the day, it improves our bottom line, but most importantly it offers us the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. A life where our professional engagement is designed to be of service to others. That is what will fulfill us.

More on Company Culture6 Companies With the Best Employee Recognition Programs


A Profitable, Growing and Fulfilling Workplace

Within months, it was clear that by focusing on even a handful of timeless, spiritual principles, which none of us had ever experienced in a workplace before then, we had already built a much better company.

Not only a company that was profitable and growing, but one that was more fulfilling — where each of us felt happier working, which quickly attracted great employees and retained customers.

Crossing the Desert book cover
Image provided by BenBella Books

Remarkably, hardly anyone we encountered during this transition showed any resistance to the ideas we were putting forth. Instead, the most common reaction was something like, “Wow. If they had fostered this sort of culture at the last place I worked, maybe I wouldn’t have quit!”

Reprinted with permission from Crossing the Desert: The Power of Embracing Life’s Difficult Journeys by Payam Zamani (BenBella Books, 2024).

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