📻 — The “Soul of Dell” — Core Values and Culture Doc from a Fortune 500

This is your Community, Daily.

Reading Time: ~ 9 min.

Good morning yeniverse!

A bunch of you pinged me about yesterday’s issue; a few of you are planning on using it as an “info product” which is a fantastic idea! Feel free to use it for anything that you want!

  1. Art of Storytelling. Spotify paid subscriptions. Mr. Beast sells.

  2. LinkedIn Freelancer vs Fiverr. Shopify goes gamingeCommerce!

  3. Dunbar’s number and your phone contact list. $500M mistake.

  4. News aggregators. App tracking transparencyContra. GPT3 demos.

  5. WhatsApp says “Fuck You“. Twitter threads. Remote teams.

  6. Project management for GitHubNeXTStep. QAnon casualties.

  7. Kingdom. User Surveys. Stress-free moveMotivation. Event analytics.

  8. Wow. Bye. Cookie protection. Inclusive transworkplaceWeird.

  9. Software bugs have a real cost. Find audience for course.

  10. Would you trust Google with your domains? Rumble everything!

To infinity & community!

— john

When I accepted a role as a newly-minted content producer and software developer at DELL, Inc. back in 2006/7-ish I was handed a new Dell-branded notebook computer and a stack of printouts that included their corporate handbook. They called it “The Soul of Dell” and I giggled a little too much.

The reality is that the document, itself, was actually pretty good; at the time I was far too immature to fully appreciate how useful a handbook can actually be!

I’ve since changed my tune and one of the most important documents that I’ve created for my community and startup is the handbook itself:

I was asked if I still had the Soul of Dell handbook and after some searching I was able to find my original — digital — copy. Hopefully you find this example useful and can draw from it some inspiration for your own!

Dell, at the time of my employment (for nearly 2 years), was the largest computer company on the planet! HP would quickly take the lead away from them and then Apple a few years later.


Table of Contents:

  1. The Soul of Dell

  2. Customers

  3. The Dell Team

  4. Direct Relationships

  5. Global Citizenship

  6. Winning

The Soul of Dell

When Dell was founded in 1984, our business model was grounded in the fundamental belief that having a direct relationship with customers was essential to understanding their expectations and, ultimately, being able to deliver the best customer experience.

Since its beginnings, our company has been guided by the value of building direct relationships, as well as other operating values that have led us to become one of the world’s most admired companies.

The Soul Of Dell is our statement of corporate philosophy. It provides a common statement of our basic values and beliefs and serves as a guide for our company in the many cultures we call home. Our values and beliefs communicate the kind of company we are and aspire to be.

This document is intended to assure that our actions worldwide are consistent and supportive of our values and beliefs.

At Dell we value and are committed to: Customers, the Dell Team, Direct
Relationships, Global Citizenship and Winning.

Dell Customers

We believe in creating loyal customers by providing a superior experience at a great value.

We are committed to:

  1. One-to-one, direct relationships.

  2. Providing the best products and services featuring the highest quality and
    most relevant technology.

  3. Creating and leveraging industry standards.

  4. Out-performing the competition by consistently providing value and a
    superior customer experience.

The Dell Team

We believe our continued success lies in teamwork and the opportunity each
team member has to learn, develop and grow.

We are committed to:

  1. Being a meritocracy. — We value accountability and reward those teams and team members who continually improve their capability and contribution.

  2. Developing, retaining and attracting the best people, reflective of our
    worldwide marketplace.
     — Hire and promote based on performance, capability and qualifications as key criteria. Look first to promote from within Dell.

Providing training and learning opportunities to maximize team and
individual performances.

Investing in our People Leadership capabilities as a competitive advantage.

Managing our talent as a key asset.

Utilizing job assignments across and within regions to build global
leadership capability,

Promoting an environment that values individual differences, engages people
in decision-making and encourages employees at all levels and across all parts
of the company to work as a team.

Maintaining base pay and benefit programs competitive with successful
companies relevant to our marketplace.

Direct Relationships

We believe in being direct in all we do.

We are committed to:

  1. Behaving ethically in every interaction and in every aspect of how we
    conduct business.

  2. Responding to customer needs in a timely and reasonable manner.

  3. Fostering open, two-way communications with customers, partners, suppliers and each other.

  4. Building and maintaining effective relationships with our partners and suppliers to ensure availability and reliability of our products and services.

  5. Organizing, communicating and operating through non-hierarchical and
    non-bureaucratic structures.

Global Citizenship

We believe in participating responsibly in the global marketplace.

We are committed to:

  1. Understanding and respecting all nations’ laws, values and cultures.

  2. Profitably growing our business in all markets.

  3. Promoting a healthy business climate globally.

  4. Contributing positively in every community that we call home, both personally and organizationally.


We a have a passion for winning in everything we do.

We are committed to:

  1. Building a culture of operational excellence.

  2. Delivering superior customer experience.

  3. Leading in the global markets we serve.

  4. Being known as a great company and a great place to work.

  5. Providing superior shareholder return over time.

Who We Are: How We Win with Integrity

The term speaks to our business model, of course.

But being direct also lies at the heart of how we treat our customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders. Direct relationships help us understand their needs, making it crucial that they believe what we say and trust what we do. Dell’s success is based on this foundation of personal and professional integrity.

And at the core of this approach is a higher standard of ethical behavior that goes beyond minimum legal requirements.

This standard is based on trust, integrity, honesty, judgment, respect, courage and individual responsibility. There is meaning behind these words, which relate to the values we require not only of ourselves, but also of our business partners.

This brochure explores how these words apply to our work, through our global ethics office and our Code of Conduct. Just as The Soul of Dell articulates our values and beliefs, the Code of Conduct provides guidance to ensure we meet our higher standard and conduct business the Dell Way – by winning with integrity.

We are what we show others.

Trust, integrity, honesty, judgment, respect, courage and responsibility.

Their meaning may vary slightly from person to person.
But at Dell, they speak to our character and reputation.

And our character and reputation precede uS, because the way we choose to conduct business with customers, partners and each other creates a lasting impression.

How does Dell interpret these seven words?

Trust — It means our word is good. We keep our commitments to each other and to our stakeholders.

Integrity — We do the right thing without compromise. We avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Honesty — What we say IS true and forthcoming not just technically correct. We are open and transparent in our communications with each other and about business performance.

Judgment — We think before we act and consider the consequences of our actions.

Respect — We treat people with dignity and value their contributions. We maintain fairness in all relationships.

Courage — We speak up for what is right. We report wrongdoing when we see it.

Responsibility — We accept the consequences of our actions. We admit
our mistakes and quickly correct them. We do not retaliate against those who report violations of law or policy.

At Dell, everyone — regardless of grade level, position or geographic location — is expected to base their daily actions and conduct on this higher standard.

Who Will You Be?

Policies and guidelines are necessary, of course.

But ultimately our standards and our reputation in global ethics start and end with each of us individually. Our behavior sets the course toward Dell’s higher standard in global ethics.

To ensure all of us continue meeting or exceeding these higher standards, Dell established its Global Ethics Council to define and advocate our policies worldwide. Every region of the world has Regional Ethics Committees that report to the council and place these policies into effect. They’re also responsible for ensuring compliance worldwide.

The authoritative guideline for appropriate ethical behavior at Dell is our
Code of Conduct, which makes clear an uncompromising set of standards.
Online training provides you with tutorials, guidance and reference resources
to help each of us meet these standards.

Another important resource is the global ethics telephone helpline at 800-808-9975. The helpline lets you speak with someone about an ethics issue or find answers to questions about the Code of Conduct, The helpline is an
anonymous way to report possibly unacceptable behavior. One additional resource is to e-mail the ethics team at ethics@dell.com.

Dell also has an Office of the Ombuds, which offers employees in the United States and Canada a comfortable way to resolve work-related issues, including those involving ethics, through confidential, anonymous and informal assistance, The office is neutral and independent, advocating for neither the employee nor management, but serving as an intermediary and a representative for fair process. Staff members help recommend resolutions to alleged harassment and business conduct violations as well as certain job-related concerns. If necessary, the office may suggest voluntary third-party mediation.

What Will You Face?

Of course, you always have the option of contacting your manager or Human Resources representative for advice.

Just remember that although the letter of the law is obviously important, the spirit of the law is equally crucial. It’s that little voice that can guide us when facing unethical behavior.

In the quest for success, we continually try to win new business, and suppliers, vendors and partners want to win business with us. But sometimes professional hospitality is taken too far. That’s why we should never accept or give a business courtesy that might compromise our judgment, inappropriately influence others, conflict with Dell’s ability to succeed, or reflect negatively on the company.

Remember, too, that the conduct we display in e-mails, faxes, voicemails and any other technology should be no different from our conduct in person. That’s just good business sense and professionalism. And good business sense and professionalism is what global ethics is really all about.

What We Must Do

Here are several common ways our actions can avoid potential problems:

  • Ensure our suppliers embrace high standards of ethical behavior and treat their employees fairly and with dignity and respect

  • Establish metrics that encourage ethical behavior

  • Refuse to distort the truth to avoid confrontation

  • Use corporate assets for corporate uses

  • Speak up In the face of unethical practices

  • Reject the use of fraudulent data

  • Never conspire with competitors

  • Refuse to participate in or allow sexual harassment

  • Stop illegal actions by others on our behalf

  • Send appropriate e-mail and access appropriate Web sites

  • Never let good results excuse or mask problems

  • Don’t blindly follow group ideas that are wrong and disrespectful to dissenters

  • Select suppliers and win customers based on the merits of people, products and services

  • Record and classify financial transactions in accordance with our accounting policies

  • Work with socially responsible organizations that also meet high standards of integrity

How We Will Know

It’s true that situations involving ethics and values can be complex.

When dilemmas occur, remember to ask yourself:

  • Is it legal?

  • Does it comply with Dell policies and our Code of Conduct?

  • How would my decision affect and look to others?

  • How would feel if my decision were made public?

  • Could I explain and defend my decision honestly to others?

  • Have I fully explored the implications of my decision?

  • Would I benefit from additional advice?

The bottom line: Dell will never support your unethical decision, so never do anything unethical on Dell’s behalf. Seek advice and help to find solution that’s right for you and in accordance with company policies.

Who We Are Goes a Long Way

Dell’s direct business model relies on strong relationships with our vendors and partners.

We know that as a company with an extensive global supply chain, we have a responsibility to work with our suppliers to promote sustainable environmental practices, the health and safety of people and fundamental human rights and dignity. While we operate in a world with many different cultures, countries and levels of economic development, we also believe certain high standards must cross borders, levels of development and cultures and that meeting these standards is a condition of doing business with Dell.

Dell’s higher standard represents i commitment from its Board of Directors
as well. The board firmly believes that following sound corporate governance policies and practices is critical to governing and managing Dell with the highest standards of responsibility, ethics and integrity and in the best interests of stockholders. The board has adopted principles of corporate governance that reflect a set of core values and provide the foundation for Dell’s governance and management systems and in interactions with others.

Who We Are Makes the Difference

Global ethics are everyone’s responsibility at Dell, and everyone has an obligation to know our corporate guidelines and act accordingly. Learn the policies, take advantage of the resources available, and be a positive example. One person can impact the entire company, both positively and negatively.

That’s why Dell’s commitment to ethics is so comprehensive and demanding – and truly global. At Dell, we shouldn’t expect any less. Nor can we afford anything else.

Tomorrow, I’ll share Dell’s Code of Conduct! Have a great rest of your day!