17 October is World Values Day – and as businesses with a defined set of values to operate by, this is an opportunity for co-ops to shout about their mission.
The day is an annual campaign to increase the awareness and practice of values around the world, encouraging those interested in supporting it to identify a value that is important to them and take a simple and practical action based on this value. This year the theme is Values and Wellbeing.
The first World Values Day was celebrated in 2016. In the lead-up to that year’s celebration Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, released the book Values: How to Bring Values to Life in Your Business. The book uses a range of international case studies to explore what values and ethics really mean, and how they can be integrated into commercial life and used to make businesses a success. He also looks at examples from “profit-with-purpose” businesses such as cooperatives.
As people-centred enterprises, cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. The cooperative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice. The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) acts as a global steward of the Statement on the Cooperative Identity – the Values and Principles of the cooperative movement. These are enshrined in the Statement on the Cooperative Identity revised by the ICA in 1995.
At the ICA’s Global Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, which closes on World Values Day itself, delegates heard inspiring examples of coops putting their values into action. In her keynote address author and activist Vandana Shiva reminded us that cooperatives can help to achieve a more solidarity-based and participatory society. They also explored how cooperatives can be a vehicle of just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all. From generating employment and decent work to pioneering sustainable consumption and equality, co-ops can play a key role in driving the sustainable development agenda.
“We believe that co-operative values are a very good answer to the challenges that nowadays we have to face and employment and decent work are the best formula for a better world,” said CICOPA’s newly elected president, Albizuri Inigo from the Mondragon Group.
Co-operatives across the world can join the conversation and help promote the movement online through the hashtag #WorldValuesDay.