Ethics, values come to the
May 25, 2003
Group puts industry’s core principles into
Clearly, the success of the Salinas Valley produce industry
has been cultivated by more than just fertile soil,
a gentle climate, hard work and human know-how –
though those haven’t hurt.
Company leaders are quick to point out
that what they and their forebears achieved was built
on a foundation of trust, honesty, fairness and stewardship.
Its essence: the idea of a “verbal
hand-shake agreement” and a generous commitment
to community. Now a group of local ag leaders are involved
in the difficult task of putting into words the industry’s
core values, ethics and principles so they can be passed
onto a new generation of leadership.
The idea to create a working group to
preserve and promote the elements in the future came
out of discussions between Basil Mills, president of
Mills Inc., and Jim Bracher, founder of the Bracher
Center for Integrity in Leadership.
In January, Mills and Bracher began conversations
on how a value-based approach could help ensure successful
succession of ag leadership.
“I looked at it as a great way not
only to honor the early leaders of this business but
also to show the next generation the importance of integrity,”
Mills said. “The other thing the founders did
is they gave back to the community. Those of us who
learned from them have recognized the importance of
Their talks were against the backdrop
of news stories about companies – Enron and WorldCom
among them – whose leaders failed to uphold basic
ethics, often at tragic cost to employees, stockholders
Mills invited 17 stakeholders to discuss
foundation values that date back to the launching of
the modern produce era, in the 1920s and ‘30s.
Over the course of several meetings in
April and May, the stakeholders and Bracher’s
firm worked toward a document that identified the core
principles and their components.
The final document is still taking shape.
One likely result is some form of ag-values presentation
in the new Ag Wing at the National Steinbeck Center,
scheduled to open Sept. 1.