Here Rachel Mullen summarises the key points in “Values-Led Organisations: Releasing the Potential of Values”.
Civil society readily acknowledges its work as values-based. Whether we are working to tackle climate change, eliminate poverty, promote equality or strengthen community ties, what connects all of these efforts is a set of core values.
At organisational level our values might be explicitly named in our vision and mission statements, or proudly displayed on our websites and in our promotional materials. This is often where our efforts to live our core values begin and end. Civil society organisations rarely take the time to reflect on their values, yet every decision that an organisation makes will reflect the set of dominant values at work in that organisation. A mix of explicit values and implicit values will ultimately shape organisational culture. The quality of the work and the organisation’s impact ultimately depends on ensuring that explicit core values are predominant.
A disconnect between what we say we stand for, and how we operate in reality, can arise due to our core values remaining at the level of abstract concepts, rather than functioning as a lens, through which all organisational activities, practices and processes are viewed. In order to address this disconnect, there is a challenge to bridge the distance between having core values and living our core values.
When an organisation is living its values, it is being authentic and true to itself, as it is living its stated purpose. Research indicates that values-led organisations are more effective than organisations that fail to live their values. Values-led organisations are consistent, coherent and explicit in living their values.
This publication aims to support organisations to become values-led. It offers information about the power of values in driving our work for social change as well as practical tools to support a values-led approach. It is based on the work of Values Lab, a new initiative supporting civil society organisations to re-engage with their core values and develop working methods to ensure core values shape their activities, practice and processes.