Speaker: Mary Gentile

Voicing our Values

Mary C. Gentile, PhD, is the Creator/Director of Giving Voice to Values, a Senior Advisor at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, and an independent consultant. A Senior Research Scholar at Babson College, Gentile previously was a faculty member and manager of case research at Harvard Business School.

Giving Voice to Values is a pioneering business curriculum for values-driven leadership launched by the Aspen Institute and Yale School of Management, now based and supported at Babson College. Available for free to educators, the curriculum has been featured in Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, McKinsey Quarterly, BizEd, etc. and piloted in more than 830 business schools, companies, and organizations globally. The book, Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right – provides an action-oriented manifesto for individuals to feel empowered to voice and act on their values, live with integrity, fight for one's convictions, and build a more ethical workplace. There is an extensive GVV curriculum of readings, cases, exercises and a series of interactive online social cohort-based modules. Gentile is Collections Editor for the GVV book series with Business Expert Press. The edited volume is Educating for Values-Driven Leadership: Giving Voice To Values Across the Curriculum (Business Expert Press, 2013) and includes chapters by a dozen faculty from different functional areas who describe how they use GVV.

“GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical,” Gentile says. “Rather GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This pedagogy and curriculum are about raising those odds. Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the Giving Voice to Values curriculum focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: ‘What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?’”

“It’s all about practice,” she says. “The typical kinds of values conflicts we will encounter are often predictable. Because they are predictable, there is the opportunity to anticipate the ‘reasons and rationalizations’ we will hear in defense of the conflicted practice, and to literally craft ‘scripts’ and action plans, and practice delivering them with supportive peer coaches. Just as an athlete practices his or her moves to commit them to muscle memory, the point here is to make voicing our values the default position.”

While at Harvard Business School (1985–1995), Gentile was one of the principal architects of the innovative educational program, Leadership, Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. Gentile co-authored Can Ethics Be Taught? Perspectives, Challenges, and Approaches at Harvard Business School (with Thomas R. Piper and Sharon Parks, Harvard Business School Press, 1993, translated into Japanese and Hungarian). She also served as Content Expert for the award-winning interactive CD-ROM, Managing Across Differences (Harvard Business School Publishing 1996). Gentile’s other publications include Differences That Work: Organizational Excellence through Diversity; Managing Diversity: Making Differences Work; Managerial Excellence Through Diversity: Text and Cases, as well as numerous articles, cases, and book reviews.

Gentile earned her bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA), and her MA and PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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