Workplace Values

How will we treat each other?

We each bring our backgrounds, beliefs, values, talents and behavior standards to work. Taken together, these define how we treat others and how we expect to be treated. They define what makes each of us unique.

To respect diversity is to recognize each individual for his/her unusual and unique talents. These talents are as multifaceted and complex as the individual they belong to. Learning how to deal with diversity involves acquiring some new skills. In fact, succeeding at work is very difficult for those who are unable to collaborate with a diverse group of people.

Diversity by itself doesn't make an organization strong or successful. Dealing with diversity in a healthy, productive and proactive manner, however, can help an organization succeed.

Diversity includes:


Describing personal culture and values

The great law of culture is: Let each become all that he was created capable of being.

-Thomas Carlyle, 1827

Read the list of descriptive words below and respond to the following questions.

  1. Think about yourself in relation to each of the terms. Be selective as you consider each word. Circle at least seven words, more if you like, that can be used to describe you. You are not limited to these words and you may add any words you want to the list. Select words that are most meaningful to you. They need not necessarily be the words others would use to describe you. This exercise is for your benefit.


Words that relate to culture and values


adaptive
afraid
African
alternative
American
anxious
articulate
Asian
assertive
athletic
bilingual
bisexual
Buddhist
calendar
Catholic
Christian
confident
cooperative
creative
dreamer
emotional
ethical

European
family oriented
feminist
flexible
folksy
frugal
funny
gay
generous
helpful
heterosexual
Hindu
Hispanic
honest
hospitable
innovative
intelligent
Islamic
Jewish
kind
Latino
liberal

listener
macho
married
Native
personal
physically
challenged
private
proactive
professional
proper
Protestant
radical
religious
rigid
sensitive
Sikh
single
successful
supportive
talkative
white

  1. Write the words in the diagram below.
Me, Myself & I Bubble Diagram


Words that describe who I am

Words have tremendous power. Look at the words you have chosen on the previous pages. Answer the questions posed below about your selections.

  1. How do the words you selected reflect you and the values that are important to you?

  2. Are there words on your list that might be misinterpreted by others? Which ones?

  3. Did you list words that some people might perceive as controversial? Which ones?

  4. Which words

  5. What strengths are represented in your culture and values profile?

  6. How might these strengths contribute to your success at work?


Describing organizational culture and values

  1. Select five words that describe your organization's culture. As a new employee in the organization you might need some help in choosing the words. You may want to ask some of your colleagues for their input on this question.

  2. Write the descriptions in the diagram below.

    Organizational Culture Diagram

  3. What, if any, similarities are there between the words you used to describe yourself and the words you used to describe your organization's culture?

  4. How might these cultural characteristics contribute to the organization's strength?

  5. What other cultural characteristics would you like to see on your list?

  6. How might you go about acquiring these characteristics?


Understanding respect

Operationally, culture is defined as shared values, beliefs, expectations, attitudes, assumptions and norms. These are seldom written down or discussed; rather they are learned by living the organization and becoming part of it.

-Ralph Kilman,
Beyond the Quick Fix

The most basic value that each person needs to practice in the workplace is respect. Without that, nothing else works. We don't have to like each other, but we do have to respect each other.

  1. What behaviors help you feel that you are respected?

  2. What do people do that can make you feel that you aren't being respected, or that your values are minimized or ignored?

  3. How can you positively inform others of the importance of your values to you?

  4. How do you act when others don’t show respect towards you?

  5. How does your reaction help others understand why you are uncomfortable or angry?


Contributing to the organization's workplace values

Understanding what respect means to each of us is a starting point to help us see the importance of treating others respectfully. The beginning of this section mentions that learning how to deal with diversity involves acquiring some new skills. Many of these skills are directly related to communication, some to practicing ethical behavior, and others to carrying out our work in a professional manner.

Below is a list of workplace values. Under each of the values there is room for you to list ways in which this value can be practiced, acknowledged and upheld in the workplace. You might want to talk with colleagues to expand your action list. These conversations will help you see how your organization promotes positive workplace values.


Workplace Values


Confront prejudices and stereotypes that demean or exclude people.



Believe in yourself and your values.



Be a learner.



Be an advocate for others.



Be sensitive to the impact you have on others.



Respect others' dignity, values, beliefs and feelings.



Communicate honestly.



Never harass or accept the harassment of others.



Recognize that as humans, we all make mistakes.