How often do you think about your company’s values?
In the tech startup world, it’s easy to get side-tracked by immediate concerns around product development, balance sheets, and just plain making it through another year. However, the values held by a company don’t just serve to look good on a corporate wall. Values define who we are as people and as a company. They are essential for us to drive recruitment and retention of brilliant talent in Vancouver.
Vancouver is the capital of tech in Canada, hosting offices for some of the largest tech companies in the world, including Amazon, Salesforce, and Sony. These massive conglomerates attract or actively recruit top talent from not only within Vancouver, but from around the world – particularly given Canada’s friendly immigration policies.
For many startups, competition with these giants for recruitment is a major challenge. After all, how do you attract the best and brightest away from companies with such reach, wealth and global recognition?
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In our experience, the answer lies with company mission and values. At Clir Renewables, we have attracted a number of great software engineers and programmers from leading Vancouver-based businesses, such as Hootsuite, Amazon and many others, because our company aligns with their personal convictions around sustainability, innovation, and inclusion while being focused on having the biggest impact in the limited hours of every day.
Our mission at Clir is to minimise the effects of humankind on the climate – this is at the heart of our product, which turns renewable energy data into action whether that is increasing output, reducing operational costs or managing risk. Naturally, this has drawn in people who see the world changing around them and want to actively work toward a decarbonised energy system. Vancouver is full of people who are conscientious about their impact on the environment, who have either joined or actively started one of the many cleantech companies in the city.
However, sustainability alone might spark interest, but is only one value of many that can keep the team enthusiastic about what they do.
Innovation is another value that must lay at the heart of any tech business, since new digital solutions to make life or business easier are the name of the game. However, just because a company’s products are doing something different doesn’t mean it has actually built up an internal culture of innovation.
A culture of innovation needs people who see challenges as just another opportunity to grow a new skill or create a new solution. If a company makes sure that it recruits along these values and nurtures them, it ultimately benefits from a highly adaptable workforce when unforeseen challenges arise. You only have to look at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to see that businesses who could easily change their ways of working as offices closed were able to move toward homeworking with minimal disruption.
Diversity and inclusion are often included in company codes of ethics but rarely acted upon explicitly. Often, companies limit their diversity and inclusion commitment to vague statements about respecting everyone regardless of their background or identity.
However, these statements are meaningless without evidence of action – and a company that doesn’t take action to include and respect a diverse workforce will struggle to keep talented employees in socially marginalised groups engaged.
We have a long way to go, but we’ve taken actions in many ways here at Clir from adopting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call for Action #92, signing up to the Equal by 30 initiative, and actively finding candidates from minority groups to apply and come to work at Clir. We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the little things that encourage employees across all rungs of the business to feed back. It is a way to not only promote internal engagement, but also keep track of whether your efforts are actively helping to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Professionals who are willing to join a company based on principles won’t be satisfied by businesses that just say they have these values. Companies have to live and breathe them. Their actions, their statements, and even their very existence needs to demonstrate it every day. If this evidence is clearly communicated, the wide array of brilliant talent we have here in Vancouver will sit up and take notice that their employer shares the passion and enthusiasm to make their vision for the world a reality.
Gareth Brown is the CEO of Clir Renewables.