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Living your values

Who should ensure that the value systems formulated in steering documents are genuinely lived up to? Who should interpret the formulations? And what happens when these values gain real significance? Over the last six months I have asked various people for their thoughts on these issues. More detailed work on how general formulations on value systems can be translated into everyday practice has been initiated.

At the Equality Office, we have discussed and circulated thoughts on how values are part of the various assignments, projects and initiatives we pursue. It is often in courses and at meetings that questions concerning values, norms, treatment and actions arise. Several dialogue meetings about values have subsequently been held in different groups. Surprisingly enough, (or perhaps not?) most people talk about how values are attested to on a daily basis at work.

While made specific in written guidelines, they are actually activated via interactions between people. Formulations need to be interpreted and translated in specific situations. At a university like KTH, value systems are exercised everywhere, such as in personnel matters, research support, leadership development, recruitment, branding, student influence, health & safety, pedagogics, staff training and in academic employeeship.

Many people stress the importance managers have in living these values and providing a good example, in the form of respectful conduct and inclusive values. Not everyone recognises themselves in the general formulations and therefore perceive a gap between words and deeds. This can create frustration and dissatisfaction. More detailed work must therefore be undertaken everywhere in conversations and meetings.

To shrink this distance between words and deeds, we can all ask ourselves the question; what do I do in my work that is tangential to our values? How can I take responsibility for engaging in developing and inclusive conversations on a daily basis for example? What could I develop? How can I support other people around me?