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Vision and purpose are the bedrock of why a company exists, but values inform how decisions are made and how their purpose is achieved. Values play a key role in shaping corporate culture and must be intrinsically linked to a company’s purpose. They also give employees a shared sense of commitment, allowing them to rally behind a united cause. That’s why we knew that creating Bonterra’s values would be an important moment in our company's history—and that we needed to get it right.
Bonterra was formed by bringing together four organizations that serve different dimensions of the social good landscape—nonprofits, public agencies, corporations, philanthropic organizations, and foundations. Since our initial formation, we’ve been working to build our corporate culture, and defining and living our values plays a key role in this process.
Creating purpose-driven values
It was important for us to ensure our values and our purpose went hand-in-hand and accurately represented our employees' behaviors. To do so, we needed to take a step back and examine our company culture with a holistic view and understand what defines us and what sets us apart. As a result, engaging our employees was a no-brainer!
We identified a group of 18 employees from parts of the organization to become Culture Ambassadors. Their role? To bring their years of experience in our legacy organizations to the table as they helped define our core values.
To support this process, we engaged Great Mondays and Josh Levine to help build a strategic framework around our culture. Through a series of workshops and deep conversations, our Culture Ambassadors identified behaviors they thought would embody and enable our purpose. They spent time with senior leaders and external stakeholders to understand our vision, strategy, and brand identity and learn more about our customers and the problems we’re solving. From there, they drafted values statements to inspire actions among their peers and our customers.
Finally, after a few months, we asked them to help us unveil our new values to their teams and the entire company. We even created a culture playbook to help translate our values into behaviors. Now, we’re continuing to build the most inspired company culture by applying our values to our everyday actions.
“Our values were created in the context of our purpose and our brand, and are powerful reminders of what makes us special. I am so proud of our Culture Ambassadors and their work to help Bonterra create the most inspired culture. Because of this great work, we now have four values that stretch across the end-to-end employee experience and are infused throughout our talent processes.” - Terilyn Juarez Monroe, Chief People Officer at Bonterra
Together, our Culture Ambassadors developed the following core values to guide our work and our journey as Bonterra.
Elevate Doers of Good
As the optimistic advocates supporting the people behind the scenes of social good, we’re always looking for ways to elevate our customers—the doers of good—so more good can be done. We achieve this by collectively flexing our passion for impact and our tech smarts to help our customers do more good.
Inventing what doesn’t exist requires curiosity and a growth mindset. We keep our customers at the core of what we do, seeking the knowledge and understanding that will solve unimagined possibilities and unmet needs. We encourage our workforce to be courageous, favor progress over perfection and celebrate hard work.
No matter our position, identities, or background, we own our part in making a working environment in which the multiple dimensions of diversity are embraced. We are passionate and diligent about cultivating a culture where everyone can thrive.
Appreciate the Journey
As an organization, we are driven by an urgent purpose—sometimes, that can be a heavy load to carry. However, it’s why we remember to welcome the days with optimism and meet each other with warmth, humor, and openness. We understand that taking our work seriously doesn’t mean we don’t get to enjoy the ride, and we are grateful for this opportunity to take part in the purpose of Bonterra.
Living our values
But simply developing a set of values isn’t enough! It’s important for them to be infused throughout our workforce, used to guide our journey together, and leveraged to build the most inspired company culture.
“Living your values means making space to evaluate yourself and think; How do I use our values as a personal scorecard? Where can I be a better Bonterran? How can I move our business forward? What does my best work look like? How will I make a difference today for my partners and customers?” - Erin Mulligan Nelson, Chief Executive Officer at Bonterra
We encourage Bonterrans to live our values through continuous reflection. Doing this takes time, energy, and focus—and we see each effort as part of our commitment to each other and to the leaders, organizations, and people we serve. Since we realize that no one person or team can build culture on their own, our Culture Ambassadors helped us launch a playbook to enable a cross-company commitment to these efforts.
Our culture playbook is filled with resources and activities aimed at helping our teams spark critical conversations around our values. Leaders across the company leverage the playbook as a tool to help Bonterrans align with and deliver on our values, and integrate them into their workplace conversations, weekly meetings, and various workstreams. Here’s a snapshot of some of the activities outlined in the playbook:
- Share your points of view and stories — Capture how you illustrate each company value or reflect on where you see them in action.
- Connect to the values on an individual level — Encourage your team members to connect the work they do with our company values.
- Make space for values in your meetings — Experiment with the exercises that help integrate elements of the culture playbook into your team meetings.
- Recognize current behaviors that amplify our culture — In your 1:1s or team meetings, identify Bonterrans who have been role modeling our culture. Ask your team: “Who have you seen representing [selected value] in the past week?”
Building the most inspired culture
Although we’re only a year old, we’re proud of the work we have already accomplished to elevate the doers of good, innovate courageously, cultivate inclusivity, and truly appreciate our journey. Strategically and culturally, we relished this unique opportunity to create something that has never been done before. We’re laying a firm foundation on which to build our most inspired culture. This process helped us intentionally connect our purpose and our values to ensure they’re infused throughout our end-to-end employee experience and influence our culture for years to come.
Want to know more? Hear from Bonterra’s Chief Executive Officer, Erin Mulligan Nelson, and Chief People Officer, Terilyn Juarez Monroe, as they reflect on the process of defining our values, what they mean, and how we live them. Listen here!