Maggie Strudwick gives a summary of our meeting on the 24 March, which came just 2 days after the London terrorist attack in the Westminster area. Five people died in the shocking incident, including the perpetrator, and 50 people were injured. We opened our meeting by stating a personal value of ours that had come to mind around what had happened on that Wednesday.  Personal values expressed reached beyond the reported reactions from the attack which had been characterised as an attack against liberty, freedom of speech and democracy. Some of the values expressed at the meeting were resilience, unity, compassion for the victims’ families, trust, gratitude, generosity and selflessness.

Talk and breakout: Organising Around Values

The main speaker and breakout session facilitator was Alliance member Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the trade association for Co-operatives and author of “Values: How to Bring Values to Life in Your Business”. The question posed was “Can business be values led?  How can we bring value to organisational life – it’s not just “soft stuff”?

Ed set the scene using Co-operatives as a test case, “a tale of two chocolates”.  He relayed a story from his boyhood that involved obtaining and overindulging on Marathon Bars that had evoked a sense of shame and gave him a wake-up call as to who he was and how to live.  That set him on the path for global justice and in time, helping to establish the FairTrade mark in 1994; the first product to bear the mark was Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate bar.

We talked about extrinsic and intrinsic motivators:  extrinsic “carrot and stick” motivators such as image, wealth, power, social status, and intrinsic “rose” motivators being dignity, curiosity, empathy and fairness. It was acknowledged that every business is led by values, but sometimes they may just be the wrong ones!  Ed spoke about how co-operatives values are based on a subset of ethical values, including self-help, safe responsibility and democracy, and how the values are not to be thought of as a static list but to think about the work that goes on around them.

Of the 7 core principles and values that Co-operatives around the world operate by, education was the least used, yet in an organisational setting you have to do something that people can relate to. Our breakout session was used to imagine a business with a role for a “Chief Ethics Officer”. We worked in groups to define a job description and a competency framework.  One group looking at the job description came out of that session saying that the CEO is really the “CEO”.

Talk: World Values Day

The World Values Day core team gave feedback on the 2016 World Values Day, some of the highlights of the day, and how its reach extended across 74 countries.  Despite the many challenges involved in co-ordinating the many online and physical events and activities it had been a success and a great platform for the future.  A great inspiration to get involved this year…. preparation has already started for the next World Values Day which will be on 19th October 2017

For WVD 2017 the emphasis is going to be more on Organisational Values and in particular how organisations so often fail to live up to their values – the values gap.

The Alliance is working with two partners, the RSA and the Forward Institute, to create a one-hour Values Challenge” programme for organisations to run at their own work or meeting places on WVD 2017. They will each be asked to identify that gap in their organisation in relation to one of their core values and to decide on just one change or choice they can make which can make a difference: the motto will be One Hour, One Value, One Change.

This one-hour programme will be piloted with several large organisations in April/May. It will be adapted and piloted also with some smaller organisations and community groups hopefully in May and June.

It was mentioned that suitable smaller organisations and groups are needed to take part in these pilots, and several names were suggested. More suggestions would be welcome.

Help will also be needed on and for World Values Day, support with fundraising, social media, and running the London Conference again.  We are looking for skills or resources that any of our members or supporters may be able to provide, and any contributions towards running an event.  Links and contacts with organisations outside the UK would also be welcome?  World Values Day and the Values Challenge are not in any way restricted to the UK, and the aim is for it to be increasingly truly global.

There was a very lively discussion among those present with many questions, ideas and suggestions and a general enthusiasm for being involved discussion lots of questions, debate and commitment from those in the room to be actively involved. It was agreed that progress on plans for WVD will be communicated through the UK Values Alliance website and by email updates.

Networking Session

We ended the session with a discussion in pairs around the question, “what are your goals, intentions or plans for 2017 that are values related?”

A fascinating, inspiring and thought-provoking collection of postings on this topic were shared and collected.


As usual before the meeting finally closed we went round the room for a final word or thought from each of us. These included: “powerful meditation at the start of the session” – “good to reconnect” – “should the Chief Ethical Officer perhaps be the Chief Values Officer?” – “can ethics really differ from values, or even from morality?” – “quite amazing networking” – “a sense of great energy and ideas, and appreciation from everyone in the room” – “enormous scope for unity and going in the direction of true world values” – “grateful” – “energised”.

Maggie Strudwick

Next meeting: Friday 23 June 2017

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