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25 October, 2016

Honesty, kindness and compassion seen as the world’s most important values at the UK launch of World Values Day on 20 October

World Values Day audience

The first international World Values Day was launched in London and around the world on 20 October. The event was the brainchild of Charles Fowler (below right), who helps steer the UK Values Alliance and the Human Values Foundation, and was supported by some 50 organizations, including the Royal Society for Arts, PwC, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, AIESEC (the world’s largest student leadership body), the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, and Initiatives of Change UK.

Charles Fowler speaking at World Values DayIt follows a similar initiative launched amongst university students in Sweden four years ago, now called the World Values Initiative.

After a day of campaigning on social media, an evening World Values Day Knowledge Café, facilitated by David Gurteen of the Gurteen Knowledge Community, was hosted by Initiatives of Change in its London centre.

‘People do hold to positive, life-affirming values,’ Fowler said, quoting a National Values Assessment survey of 4,000 people four years ago. ‘Most people came up with words like caring, honesty, fairness and compassion. But when asked about the values they see in society they use words such as blame, conflict, corruption. We have good values but we don’t practice them,’ Fowler commented.

He described values as ‘the things that are important to us, that guide our lives, the core of who we are. They are like a moral compass. Values are personal and when we share them they bind us together. But bad values are limiting values.’

Welcoming the Knowledge Café participants to the Initiatives of Change (IofC) centre, Michael Smith, Head of Business Programmes at IofC UK, said that it was entirely appropriate to hold the event in its London centre. ‘IofC and its previous manifestations have always stood for core moral and ethical values,  including honesty and integrity, purity of motive, selflessness and, indeed, a love for people, planet, peace and future generations,’ he said. IofC’s founder, Frank Buchman, had called for a ‘hate-free, fear-free, greed-free world peopled by free men and women’. This was also a values-based view of the world. It included the values between individuals and in the relationships between nations.

Judith MillsManagement consultant Judith Mills (right), one of the event facilitators, commented that ‘If we put our values into action they have to come from a heart-filled place and not a grumpy place.’

Conducting the round-table group discussions, Gurteen posed the question: ‘Why is it hard to live our values?’ This led to an hour of discussions with individuals moving from table to table. Conclusions included the need for courage and the need to start the process of change within oneself first. This included the need for introspection and humility.

According to a word cloud created from respondents to the World Values Day website (, the most important values, out of a list of 90, are honesty, integrity, kindness, compassion, acceptance, respect, love, trust and truth.

Charles Fowler hoped that the IofC Centre in London could host next year’s World Values Day.

Photos by David Gurteen

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