I was listening to an interesting interview with Mary Gentile, Director of Business Curriculum at Babson College. The video appeared in this month’s McKinsey Quarterly and Lily Cunningham conducted the interview. Here’s the link if you want to see the video.  I recommend that you watch it. 

At the start of the interview, Mary shares a touching story about a ”crisis of faith”  she had about 10 years ago that left her wondering whether it was “ethical to teach business ethics”.  It does almost sound like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Anyone who has worked in a corporate setting can clearly understand why it would be almost hypocritical to teach business ethics when it was often so difficult to put it into practice in the real world.

Well Mary settled her “crisis of faith” by interviewing some MBA candidates entering Columbia University when she was finishing a consulting project for them.  Columbia asked the MBA entrants to write an essay about a time when they experienced a values conflict and how they’d handle it. Mary decided to interview the very few that had actually been successful in voicing their values. She wrote a book and a curriculum around her findings called “Giving Voice to Values“.

The video is short and the insights are interesting and a bit surprising. It’s worth the listen and I plan to pick up the book.  At a time where there is so little trust in the corporate leadership, it’s nice to know that a few people, both in the trenches and in the C-Suite, managed to do the right thing against what must have been very difficult odds.   Instead of transferring to another department, going along with the bad behavior or just quitting, these brave people stood up and had their values counted. 

We need more stories like these to inspire and uplift us. 

What about you?  Do you voice your values in the workplace?