Do you foresee a risk that the Values could be misinterpreted? For instance, could one read into the Value ‘Constant Care’ that one shouldn’t move forward or take calculated risks?
“Obviously one should be accurate and examine carefully, but not to the extent that one misses out on business opportunities. One needs to carefully outweigh the risks and the opportunities. The Values should not be a hindrance or an obstacle for taking the necessary calculated risks,” Ane Uggla says, and underlines, “I appreciate that mistakes can happen, but we need to learn from them. And hopefully not repeat them.”
Interpretations over time
Ane Uggla finds it natural that the Values are constant – but not static.
“During transition periods the Values may and should be challenged, and they are interpreted differently over time. Today we see transparency as part of the Value ‘Uprightness’, whereas this played less of a role ten years back,” Ane Uggla says, and continues:
“An example of this is Corporate Social Responsibility. We have always been involved in community engagement and always strived to be good citizens wherever we were present, whereas today’s times and partners require that we document it.”
Complexity is on the rise
According to Ane Uggla, it is not only the growing need for transparency that has changed during her nearly 30 years with the Foundation and 20 years with the company.
“We live in a world where complexity is on the rise, and as a company we are now globally bigger. From a communications perspective, the world moves at a greater pace than ever, and in my view, the growing number of information channels add to that complexity.”
This is why Ane Uggla sees the Values as a counterweight that employees can lean on in times of change:
“Whether in shipping or energy, today’s markets are less and less foreseeable, which adds to the complexity. Our employees need to be constantly ready for change, which is very demanding. We expect a lot from our workforce, and in many situations the Values represent a hand rail, something to hold onto. The Values are straightforward and easy to relate to, they are constant in a complex world.”
Welcoming the new ambassadors
However, complexity also comes with many positive aspects, and Ane Uggla welcomes the growing diversification of the workforce.
"We can learn a lot from people from the outside world – as my father also taught us – and I am really pleased when new employees are referring to the Values. Also, it is very positive that the Group Core Values booklet will be translated into several languages to ensure that all employees are fully acquainted with them.”
“We have been global almost since the beginning – and when for instance an American colleague mentions that we are value-driven as a company, it works for me as a benchmark that our self-perception is truly in line with how the outside world perceives us. We are not just any other company. We are a company with certain values. This gives us a special hallmark and characteristic and is part of our attraction, I hope. If one doesn’t approve of our Values, one needs to find another place to work. It is not all about money.”
The load-bearing pillars
When speaking to Ane Uggla it becomes clear that the Values are matters that are also spoken about during family gatherings with those closest to her.
“One of my sons said that the Values are greater than any person, no matter what their seniority or heritage, and I find this a strong statement. They connect the past, present and future and can be seen as the scaffolding, the load-bearing pillars of the company simply built into the construction. As I see it, they are carved in stone and can last forever. Naturally none of us are perfect, but the Values are there to strive for.”
Looking to the future Ane Uggla speaks with great conviction, and she especially points to the ownership structure of the Maersk Group as a safeguard in connection also to the Values.
“Certainly I see the ownership structure as an advantage when it comes to the longevity of the Values. The deep involvement of the family and the decision to have the Foundation as the majority owner works to prevent any takeover of the Group. Among other things, it allows the Group to take long-term decisions that may, in the very short term, seem less rewarding. The Values will always play an integral part in those decisions.”