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Posted by Sarah Brown on 21 Jan '19

Does the end justify the means in your organisation?

A report this month identifies that Oxfam was more concerned about what it was doing and achieving than how it achieved it and that is how its safeguarding was undermined. This is a threat to any organisation that doesn't apply its values rigorously and consistently.

Having worked with 100’s of charities I have too often found that many trustees and managers excuse poor treatment of staff or cutting corners in other ways because what they are doing is intended to do good. Oxfam, following their scandal set up an independent commission to investigate current processes and identify how it could improve its safeguarding.

The report the commission have just published says: "The commissioners have heard great appreciation for Oxfam’s work from the local organisations that partner with Oxfam, as well as the communities it serves.

"However, the commission has found that the organisation has prioritised what it aims to achieve over how it is done, at some cost to its staff and the communities they serve."

It's all about your values

We are obsessive about any organisation, charity or commercial having clear values which it applies consistently to everything it does not just to the way it works with users or clients. If you pick and choose when you apply your values, you will ultimately fail because everyone in the organisation and dealing with the organisation will ultimately stop trusting it.

It is critical that your values are translated into behaviours, systems and stories across the whole of the organisation. You need to make them live as the way your organisation operates to achieves its goals, not ignore them if they don’t fit with achieving a goal.

Ignore this and there will be more damaging newspaper headlines about charities failing and more employment tribunals brought by staff that were expected to ‘put up’ with poor treatment because the charity was doing to change the world.

Find out how to apply your values and turn them into a powerful culture. Search for "values" to find lots of blogs on values

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Tags: values vision charity social enterprise