Developing a Values Statement
The steps for developing a values statement are similar to any major planning activity. First, decide who should be involved. Leadership, board members, and at least representatives of all stakeholder groups are important in order to contribute different perspectives to the process. Because a major challenge that human service organizations face is the “growing diversity of society,” the participation of members who represent gender, race/ethnicity, language, special interest groups, and so forth will strengthen the overall result (Zdenek, 2002, p. 5). The organization’s ability to serve diverse communities is based on finding a base of shared values and assumptions that are relevant and responsive to diverse constituencies.
Establish a timeline and a process for members to interact together about the different value perspectives. Develop a plan for the facilitation of the process, which could include the use of an outside consultant (particularly important for equal participation of all members and in regard to handling conflicts). The dialogue that ensues “opens the space for multiple realities and perspectives” (Allen, 1993). Based on the constructivist approach, the commitment to dialogue is based on the assumption that every person’s reality is valid. The dialogue of a value statement activity helps to bring forward “subjugated knowledge . . . the untold stories and ways of thinking and being that have never been admitted to the mainstream conversation” (Allen, 1993, p. 38). This approach is respectful of diversity and provides an avenue for different perspectives, which is important to shaping an ethical culture that is inclusive of all groups.
This kind of process will involve a commitment of time. The format could range from a day-long meeting with everyone represented to several short meetings among stakeholder groups, with representatives bringing the results to a larger meeting. Prepare members for the...