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Values Are The New Bottomline: An Interview with Mory Fontanez



Values Are The New Bottomline: An Interview with Mory Fontanez

There’s been a tectonic shift in the way that companies are expected to conduct themselves. It’s no longer enough to offer a great product or service, cut costs and maximize profits. To compete, companies must offer something more – authenticity, empathy, and a purpose beyond making a buck. This shift is being driven both by consumers and employees – these groups are demanding that companies act with a conscience and that every action and decision be aligned to their core mission and values. And most companies – staying abreast of the headlines and boycotts and protests — GET THIS. They spend lots of money on initiatives and CSR programs and the like that only serve to create more chaos in the end. Because they aren’t real – they’re reactionary, and these inauthentic actions only create more disconnection – which leads to a lack of trust in leadership, low morale among staff, and a decline in sales and market share.

This downward cycle is something that Mory has seen time and again with her Fortune 500 clients. So she set out to build and lead a team of advisors who would help organizations create real change, aligning their business actions with their purpose and the values they believe in. What follows are highlights from our interview where she shares insights into how companies large and small can transform and become the impact-driven businesses they strive to be. 


Mory, can you share a little about your background and how you came to lead 822 Group?

My background is in PR and communications, and I’ve been in the field for about 17 years. My last corporate role before launching my own company was as a global strategist for Edelman, the largest privately held communications firm in the world.

During my time there I worked directly with a number of major corporations helping to build both marketing and communications strategies for these brands that connected them to their audience. I was and continue to be passionate about that connection piece and believe this only comes from listening with empathy to what your customers what. What I soon learned, however, was that in that role there were areas of the business I couldn’t touch that desperately needed to be addressed. 

It’s one thing to communicate a set of values and build your marketing and PR around it, but if it’s not integrated into every department and embedded into the culture it won’t last and you’ll soon find customers and employees being turned off by the inconsistencies. 

822 Group provides a platform for me and the team I’ve built to really help companies make courageous choices and become more mission-oriented by getting clear on and prioritizing their values. We go much deeper with an interdisciplinary approach that is focused on two things: Clarity and Purpose. We focus on getting really clear about the business’ true mission and then ensuring that everything in the organization falls into place to align around this core purpose. To support this transformation into a purposeful brand we cover a lot of ground with our clients from aligning leaders, to enhancing operations to providing coaching and support to the leaders to branding consultation.


Why do you think companies are so behind the mark on prioritizing impact and values?

To their credit, it really was frowned upon to bring your whole self to the corporate world. Businesses have traditionally been viewed differently and we were told as employees and leaders to leave our humanity at the door if we wanted to succeed or be taken seriously.

The world looks very different today than it did 10 or 20 years ago, and companies are just starting to catch on to the fact that the culture is changing. We’re more connected than we’ve ever been, and we’re seeing previously muted voices begin to elevate. Now is the time to show up and respond in kind – by being self-aware and purpose-oriented business leaders.

It’s not a “nice to have” either — for business to survive in the future, they need to start making changes today in order to keep up. We’ve heard all the stats that millennials are more likely to work for and buy from companies that demonstrate social impact. A business needs to be so much more than a revenue machine in order to compete at a high level to maintain their place at the top tier as this evolution continues. 

Interestingly, this also means that new companies appearing out of nowhere and grabbing a significant market share is the new normal, and some of the major brands we’ve come to know and appreciate over decades will not survive. That’s because these disruptors are demonstrating emotional intelligence and connection in ways that are true to who they are and come out in both their business practices and their branding. It’s not just talking, they walk the walk. 


What’s one thing companies can do now to survive the changes that are happening in our culture?

Get real. With themselves first and then with their employees and customers. It all starts with self-awareness. Is there chaos in your organization? If so, how do you as a leader contribute to it? It’s an uncomfortable process, but true transformation requires some discomfort. 

Once leaders are clear about their role in contributing to old behaviors that stand in the way of building a truly real, connected and courageous company, the rest will flow more easily than you’d expect. 

From there it’s about cultivating empathy as an organization, acting out of alignment with your organization’s unique mission and values and having the courage to make the right decisions. Decisions that show you understand who you are as a company and how your power and influence can go toward making a meaningful impact on your employees, customers, and community.

Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Kivo Daily Magazine