Sustainability principles in everything we do
We started with a dream. A dream to create an organization that would last for 200 years. And to obtain that, we need sustainable leadership. That is why we apply sustainability principles in everything we do, in all dimensions of the organization and, in particular, in governing the ownership of delaware itself.
Here’s how we do it:
1. Renewable scarce resources
One of the most obvious scarce resources for any organization, is leadership. If we want to assure sustainable leadership in our organization, we need renewable leadership. That is an interesting theory, but how do we put this into practice? The current shareholders pass on the ownership of delaware to the best performing people of delaware. And they do that for free, without valuating their shares. We cherish it when people join the organization, take their time to grow in a broad array of areas to become the best possible person they can be and, in the end, take up the challenge of ownership. They only do that when they want it and are truly ready for it. And when we are too. That is why we often say that we are a family business that chooses its children.
2. Generation reasoning
We allow one generation of leaders to fulfill its needs, but make sure they cannot jeopardize the chances of the next generation to do the same thing. We have structures, culture and governance in place to safeguard this. Everything is set to make sure that the current generation of leaders does in fact hand over and that the next generation has all it takes to step forward. As a consequence, all governance roles have a clear expiration date. The managing director (CEO), the management committee as well as the chairman of the board are all elected for a five-year period. After that time, they are asked to step down and make way for the next generation. This key element in our governance strategy leads to ‘generation reasoning’ in our strategy and strategy execution.
The combination of these two things, the complete lack of valuation of shares and temporary leadership, ensures that the owners are obliged to pass on ownership, even legally. But there’s more. The current generation of partners plays a key role in the financing of the company. When one of them decides to leave, he will not immediately receive his investment back. He knows that he will need to wait quite a long time. This mechanism ensures that partners are financially motivated not to jeopardize the next generation. They will not receive their money back if the organization gets into (financial) difficulties through bad leadership decisions.