Sharing thoughts on the value of values at the World Affairs Council

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This week, I spoke to a group of about 200 business leaders at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia. The session was headlined as "Business in the 21st Century and the Challenges that Lie Ahead."

I mentioned that, as part of GSK's global management team, I'm fortunate to have a role in helping to manage some weighty issues, ranging from navigating the European debt crisis to making our medicines and vaccines available to those in the developing world.

But I focused most of my comments on issues that are closer to home and of more immediate concern to me.Specifically, I talked about how we are guided by our values--transparency, integrity, respect, and a focus on the best interests of patients--in adapting our business model to a rapidly changing healthcare market and the evolving expectations of those we serve.

It's a theme I've addressed before and will happily speak about again because I'm absolutely convinced that operating from a core set of values is essential to good business management and good corporate citizenship.

I pointed out that many industries, such as transportation, energy, electronics, and communications, to name just a few, are managing their way through rapidly changing markets as new technologies emerge and customer expectations evolve.This is clearly the case in healthcare.

But I also pointed out that because we bring life-altering and life-saving medicines to patients, society holds our interactions with our customers to a higher standard.And it should.

My point was that our customers and our stakeholders need to understand that we are very serious about our responsibility to operate our business based on our core values.And, that our values-based culture creates a framework and a mindset in which compliance with rules and regulations is not the ceiling, but the floor from which we operate.As such, those values underpin every decision we make and every action we take.

As I said, I've spoken about this before and I will again, because I believe we must incorporate our values in our daily conduct and decision-making so we can meet the expectations society has for us, and our own expectations for how we fulfill our responsibility to help people do more, feel better and live longer.