Karbon’s values in action (part 4): Bring your authentic self and act with integrity

Cultivating a work culture that makes team members proud to show up each day is an essential aspect of leadership. It’s why the leadership team at Karbon is so committed to developing, defining, and periodically revisiting our company values.

Amelia and Sarah from the Karbon team are smiling at work desks, mid-discussion with Stuart and Ian.

Bringing clarity to what we are (and aren’t) about is an important part of ensuring we can best serve our customers and attract the best employees. 

Sometimes making time to discuss the high-level concepts of mission, vision, and values can seem like a luxury, but it’s an essential step in protecting the integrity of a company. 

Our executive team recently revised and updated Karbon’s company values. The goal was twofold: confirm our values still ring true and articulate them with action at the forefront.  

One of our values centers around the idea of authenticity. That’s because we limit our capabilities when we hide our unique selves.

In the fourth installment of my take on Karbon’s values, I’m taking a deep dive into why allowing your team to be themselves is a must for any forward-thinking company. 

Karbon value: Bring your authentic self and act with integrity

“Be yourself, allow others to be themselves, and celebrate our differences. Be honest, and check your ego at the door. The power of the village is the uniqueness of the individuals. The characters we are, the individuality that we have, the uniqueness of our perspectives — all of that brought together creates the culture and power of Karbon.”

Embracing uniqueness is freeing—for individuals and for the organization 

We’re a private company, not a democracy. It’s a statement that may sound jarring at first, but hear me out: At Karbon, human rights are not up for debate. We are, and always will be, an organization that welcomes and celebrates people of diverse backgrounds and identities. End of discussion. 

Here’s why this isn’t up for debate:

To start, it’s the human thing to do. But also, when we celebrate our unique identities and backgrounds, we create an environment of acceptance and safety. 

Coming to work each day in an environment that allows individuals to be themselves is healthy. And when our fundamental human needs are met, our minds are free to do our jobs well. Creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and productivity thrive when we work in accepting and welcoming environments.  

Beyond identity: Squashing groupthink with a different kind of diversity 

The idea of bringing your authentic self to work extends beyond a statement about diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Leading a dynamic, forward-thinking company takes all kinds—not just of identities but of backgrounds, experiences, ways of thinking, and even personalities. 

I’m an eight on the enneagram (which will surprise no one who knows me). With me, there’s no mucking about. Eights are decisive and determined but can also struggle to follow the rules. Generally speaking, eights are well-suited to entrepreneurship, but our weaknesses can hinder progress when operating in isolation. For a long time, I was the only eight on our leadership team. And that balance is a goodthing. 

By building a team with different ways of thinking, different strengths, and different skill sets, we are able to combat groupthink—an issue that many startups can face. 

Coming together ignites the village 

Staying true to ourselves is just part of the equation. Coming together (with our diverse knowledge, experiences, and backgrounds) is where we really begin to create opportunities for innovation. 

What good is a diverse group of individuals if we remain siloed?

I’m not just talking about opportunities for the Karbon team to be in community with one another, but for our team and our customers to come together. Karbon X was truly a magical event where many left feeling energized and inspired.

There’s great power in community. And we intend to stoke that communal fire. 

One of the things we love most about the accounting industry (that we also think is pretty unique) is that it’s made up of professionals eager to connect, share resources and ideas, and support ‘the competition’. (Having experienced the opposite in the SaaS world, I especially appreciate this community-focused mindset.) 

While accounting used to be all about balancing the books, the industry has progressed far beyond numbers, debits, and credits. Today, it’s become a people business. Ensuring there is a community aspect to how we approach our work allows us to help firms shape the future of the industry. And that community aspect isn’t possible without having the freedom to be our authentic selves.