Every day around the world, a Winrock employee builds a water pump, works with a farmer to harness smartphone technology or helps a trafficking survivor find a job. These actions flow from the principles Winrock stands for — its Core Values. To Winrock’s Aboubicar Coulibaly, the organization’s Core Values “mean that we stand for our actions, and treat all our partners, stakeholders and colleagues the same while creating new solutions to adapt to an evolving world.”
As Winrock International heads into a new decade, it is following up its new Code of Conduct policy by re-affirming the Core Values of the organization. While the Code of Conduct prescribes how Winrock employees should conduct themselves in a variety of situations, Core Values serve as a north star. The five Core Values — accountability, equity, innovation, integrity and transformation — are a statement of purpose from a dynamic organization that adapts to the world it serves.
After research, discussion and a review of peer organizations, a working group of Winrock staff members focused on approximately 20 values that were typical in the global development space and reflected the organization’s work. The executive team then refined the resulting list of values over several meetings.
The potential values were communicated to staff in three organization-wide meetings held at times to accommodate Winrock offices around the world. One-on-one interviews followed with staff who had either volunteered or were handpicked to represent a cross-section of different groups, countries, positions and programs. Staff were asked questions such as, “What do our Values mean to you?”, “Why are our Values important to Winrock?” and “How are you going to demonstrate our Values?”
“Read them, absorb them, and live them,” Winrock CEO Rodney Ferguson responded when asked how he intended to demonstrate Winrock’s values. “And hold others in our immediate reporting universe accountable to them.”
“It is essential that all Winrockers, whether it is seasoned leaders or the newest entrant to the Winrock family, be made aware of what we stand for and how we operate,” added Winrock Executive Vice President Joyjit Deb Roy. “If we see that our actions are in violation to our stated values, we need to speak up, participate and ensure that these are addressed immediately. As leaders, we have to provide a safe space where everyone can speak up if there are concerns that we are not living our values.”
Core Values “describe a choice we, as individuals, make each day that ultimately shape our environment, culture and our impact,” said Bethany Kurbis, chief human resources officer.
Staff offered edits to definitions, comments about the values, and ideas about how to implement them. The working group revised the values and definitions based on feedback from these interviews and the three staff meetings. The executive team took these revised values and produced the Core Values and their definitions. With them, Winrock will continue to fulfill its mission — to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources around the world.