Why Company Core Values Should Be Written from the Bottom Up


Company core values are just words, but words to live by. At least, that’s the idea new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wants to convey.

It’s true that Uber has been suffering a long series of faux pas and outrages, with reports of sexual harassment, lawsuits, investigations, reports of passenger tracking and a former CEO with plenty of skeletons in his closet.

Tuesday, the global transportation technology company’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, posted a blog post on his LinkedIn profile in which he promises to change Uber’s “cultural norms.” Khosrowshahi wants to toss out the old rules in order to regain the trust of his employees and customers to return to a more positive public opinion.

Khosrowshahi strongly believes that corporate culture needs to be “written from the bottom up.” The Uber CEO says he had more than 1,200 employees submit ideas for new Uber cultural values.  The 8 winning propositions were voted upon more than 22,000 times. “We also held more than 20 focus groups with representatives from our Employee Resource Groups and our international offices,” Khosrowshahi says.

“It’s clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level.,” he wrote, “As we move from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth, our culture needs to evolve. Rather than ditching everything, I’m focused on preserving what works while quickly changing what doesn’t.”

The new values sound like good intentions that will help to build a better brand name and reputation. Of course, it’s all just words now. What matters is how a company and its leaders implement the concepts daily.

Uber’s Cultural Norms

We build globally, we live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.

We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.

We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.

We do the right thing. Period.

We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.

We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.

We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.

We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!

Too often, corporate values are written to empower the company’s business practices. However, successful companies know that it’s crucial to write values that actually speak to their employees and empower their market segment. A company culture can never be forced on people, it’s created by them.