Giving Voice to Values: A Better Way to Look at Ethical Decision-Making

Thanks to the EthicsCentre CA, I had the opportunity to recently hear Mary Gentile speak, and participate in a workshop she led in Toronto. Like many other ethics practitioners, a focus area for me has been helping people, especially people in groups, make good ethical decisions. Naturally, the processes I recommended included consideration of how to implement and communicate the decisions. But Mary opened my eyes to the importance of focussing on ethical implementation and asking the question:

What would I say and do if I were going to act on my values?

GVVbookcoverFrom her handout:

Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather, GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully.”

Her research shows the importance of PRACTICING. What we practice, we get better at, and we internalize the ability to act on our values.

Babson College provides a home for leadership training in Giving Voice to Values, with wonderful resources. GVV has spread around the world in business schools and now multinational companies. I can’t think of a situation where it wouldn’t be helpful, including in our family life. And I’d like to see GVV added to nonprofit education, training and consulting.

I can’t believe GVV took this long to reach me! But I’m not an academic or corporate ethics practitioner, so I’ll forgive myself. But I will now be revising everything I do say and do in relation to helping myself and others go beyond ethical decision-making to acting effectively on our decisions. And I’ll be rewriting all my case studies too.

Oh, and if you’d like a great speaker for your conference, university or just about anywhere, I highly recommend Mary Gentile. At the session I was at, I think everyone wanted her to just keep going for hours more.

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