Corporate mission statements and company philosophies are the products of executives who recognize the strategic value of a clear statement of what the corporation stands for, its goals, and practices. Clear understanding and articulation of the company mission is the cornerstone for building an image in the minds of employees and the external public.
Organizations committed to communicating with employees and the communities have a definite communication philosophy. Companies may refer to it as their communication policy, or their mission statement. The philosophy may be articulated through statements of commitment to employees, customers and other stakeholders. The written statement of corporate commitment to goals and values is often the external manifestation of the communication philosophy. It is not necessary for a written statement to exist to have a philosophy, but if the written statement does not represent corporate behaviour and values, its hollowness will be apparent to everyone.
For companies operating globally, a strong corporate communication philosophy can offer the foundation for a code of ethics that applies throughout the world. Most corporations have an ethics code with a section on international business ethics. The written mission statement defines the corporation, its goals and operating principles as well as its values and beliefs. The first of these parts is clear and brief. The presentation of goals and operating principles calls for more detail. The expression of a company’s values and beliefs is difficult because people associate values and beliefs with philosophical or religious activities, not commercial ones. These statements cover a company’s commitment to:
• Quality and excellence;
• Customer satisfaction;
• Stockholder returns on investment;
• Profits and growth;
• Employee relations;
• Competition and competitiveness;
• Relations with vendors including the media;
• Ethical behaviour;
• Community relations and corporate citizenship;
• Diversity in the workplace;
• Preservation of the environment and resources.
A corporate code of conduct, ethics policy guidelines, or handbook of business practice expands the company mission statement. The written code acts as an implementation guide, and may include:
• Policy regarding general business conduct; disclosure; compliance;
• Bidding, negotiation and performance of government contracts;
• Conflict of interest;
• Equal opportunity.