Can you add values to your CV?

Posted 15 Oct 2020 | Blog | Give Back Better

We all have the ability to behave with values, just as we are all (or nearly all) born with the ability to sing. And as with singing, our values do need to be cultivated and practiced if we are to be the people that we want to be.

Values and culture are high on the business agenda and it is World Values Day on October 15th 2020, so it is a good time to ask whether you can add values to your CV.

The health warning is that it is not straight forward. Don’t just type them in as another CV bullet point, rather find ways to mean and show you mean what you say on paper. In work, for example, one obstacle is the challenge of authenticity. There is a gap between what organisations say and what they do – a values / action gap, which if too wide not only holds back the take-up of the values but undermines those values, because people learn from how people act more than they do from what people say.

As Richard Sennett the great sociologist argues, there is often a profound mismatch between the language of values in modern businesses and the experience of it. The language of teamwork in many an enterprise sits uncomfortably with the reality of hierarchies and inequalities of power and reward.

A good starting point is therefore to recognise how you learn at work. One framework that can help is the 70 20 10 learning and development formula developed by Morgan McCall and the Centre for Creative Leadership. This suggests that there are three types of learning. 70% of learning comes from experience on the job, 20% comes from key, developmental relationships and only 10% of learning due to formal training. The take-away for values, as for many others areas of competence and capability, is that developing people is not simply about ‘sending them on a course’.

For the 70% on the job, you can’t expect colleagues to learn how to embrace and act on values if they are not aligned to what happens across the organisation. Here is the rub. Values in an organizational setting are inevitably bound up in the nature of work. They have to address one central question, which is ‘why do you work?’ Fritjof Capra, writing in the Buddhist traditions of ‘right livelihood’, puts it more lyrically. He suggests that “we can’t be empowered by work that destroys the environment around us or creates systems of inequality. No matter how our work is organised, it cannot fully empower us unless we believe in its purpose.” And as a report we compiled earlier this year affirms, purpose has indeed become a defining feature of those businesses that do look to shape their culture and identity around values.

Alongside social learning from colleagues in the flow of work, there is then the scope to accelerate the development of values through the 20% input of key relationships. Arguably, this is missed out more often than the two other components (of learning on the job and 10% of formal training, such as staff sessions or leadership briefings on culture and values).

It is here that you should look at the work of Pilotlight, with our distinctive offer of experiential learning. Pilotlight matches up business professionals (called ‘Pilotlighters’) with small charities and social enterprises in curated programmes of skills exchange. The focus is on doing good by providing organisational support for charities, fulfilling in its own right but also powerful in developing and reinforcing values-based leadership and action.

Today, there are around 550 members of Pilotlight in the UK, giving their skills for public good using this methodology – in short forming teams that provide strategic coaching support for small charities and social enterprises through a process that is curated and evaluated with care, to ensure that the skills exchange is effective. Charities that work with Pilotlight increase on average their reach, the number of service users or beneficiaries, by 36% in the two years after the support and their income by 40%.

If you are a Pilotlighter, there is learning both around the process of coaching in a very different context but also from the practices of the charity that you are supporting. In a nutshell, it supports skills of listening and of empathy – competences that underpin a much wider frame of values, characterised by Professor Shalom Schwartz as ones of universalism and benevolence. The more specific learning outcomes are all characteristics of purposeful leadership, and include improved: confidence in working with values-led organisations; coaching skills; listening skills; understanding of different values perspectives; understanding of different contexts and styles of values-based leadership; personal networks and; understanding of social needs and the work of charities.

A longstanding partner of Pilotlight is Morgan Stanley, whose staff have been involved in a number of Pilotlight programmes. “Long-term and enduring success lies in having a strong culture and talented employees who live our values” says James P Gorman, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley. The five core values for the bank are:

  • Do the right thing
  • Put clients first
  • Lead with exceptional ideas
  • Commit to diversity and inclusion
  • Give back

Rob Partakides for example is Regulatory Relations Group Executive Director. He has worked with Pilotlight and its partner charities since 2015, when he took part in Morgan Stanley’s annual Strategy Challenge, which is delivered by Pilotlight for the bank’s London colleagues. Although he had previously volunteered for charities, Partakides says he had “never really thought about how my business skills could be useful [to them]”. That Strategy Challenge was “a very humbling experience” which opened his eyes to new social issues, he says - but also a successful one - recommendations his team provided their charity mean that five years on, it is going from strength to strength.

Jane Drysdale is an HR consultant. For the past 11 years, she has been a Pilotlighter - and has also created partnerships between Pilotlight and some of her previous clients and employers. She says it’s very important for organisations to give employees opportunities to look beyond the day-to-day procedures and realities of their own organisation, and gain perspective on the outside world. “Whether it’s Pilotlight, employee volunteering days, being an Armed Forces reservist, a school Governor or whatever else, employees who do something that develops them outside of the office, gives them that reality check, it means that they’re not wholly dependent on their employer for their self-esteem,” she comments.

Jane says she took pleasure not just in seeing the charity transformed, but in witnessing a transformation in fellow Pilotlighters - “they often come in with particular views and want to do things in a particular way - before long, they’ve developed much better questioning and coaching skills, and are using these both with the charity and in their day job”.

Working on your values, being able to demonstrate that you can act on them is a good fit for today’s career paths, which are changing with more variety of roles and settings driving in turn a need for life-long learning.

So next time you are singing - in the shower or in the choir – think about your values too. Can you add values to your CV?