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Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right
Mary C. Gentile

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Format: Hardcover, 320pp.
ISBN: 9780300161182
Publisher: Yale University Press
Pub. Date: August 24, 2010

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

How can you effectively stand up for your values when pressured by your boss, customers, or shareholders to do the opposite?

Babson College business educator and consultant Mary Gentile draws on actual business experiences as well as social science research to challenge the assumptions about business ethics at companies and business schools. She gives business leaders, managers, and students the tools not just to recognize what is right, but also to ensure that the right things happen. The book is inspired by a program Gentile launched at the Aspen Institute with Yale School of Management, and now housed at Babson College, with pilot programs in over one hundred schools and organizations, including INSEAD and MIT Sloan School of Management.

She explains why past attempts at preparing business leaders to act ethically too often failed, arguing that the issue isn’t distinguishing what is right or wrong, but knowing how to act on your values despite opposing pressure. Through research-based advice, practical exercises, and scripts for handling a wide range of ethical dilemmas, Gentile empowers business leaders with the skills to voice and act on their values, and align their professional path with their principles. Giving Voice to Values is an engaging, innovative, and useful guide that is essential reading for anyone in business.


"The unique and critically important contribution of Giving Voice to Values is that it moves us past the debate about whether we can define a common set of values, to focus instead on a shared conversation about just how to enact the values that we already know, in our deepest selves, are absolutely essential. The book is both an inspiration and a blueprint, and lays out the kind of discussion I believe is required for business education and business practice—in India and around the world."
—Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); former Co-Chairman and CEO and Co-Founder, Infosys; author of Imagining India

"In business and in life, we often know what is the right thing to do, but we have trouble implementing it. This book, developed in conjunction with the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program, shows how we can all give voice to values and make the right things happen. It is a wonderful guide to help us enter an era of responsibility and of leadership based on values."
—Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute

“Mary Gentile’s Giving Voice to Values is a clarion call to the new generation of leaders to put their values in practice in the workplace. Its timely and thoughtful message is precisely what the corporate world needs now.
”—Bill George, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School and former CEO, Medtronic

"Mary Gentile documents a fascinating tool to help us to be as ethical as we strive to be. She highlights that rehearsing for ethically challenging situations may allow us to develop a response more in line with our ethical preferences than the knee jerk responses that have led so many to make the wrong choice in important situations. The ideas in the book are clever, original, thoughtful and important."
—Max H. Bazerman, Straus Professor – HBS

"Giving Voice To Values heralds a revolution in ethics education. Gentile isn't interested in abstract (and often fruitless) debates about ethical principles -- rather, she wants to help you practice what to do when you know something is unethical. It's like a self-defense class for your soul."
—Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick

"Mary Gentile has responded to the cries of business and business school critics by shifting our attention from debating right vs wrong and right vs right to acting on the questions these dilemmas raise. This is the most significant contribution to business ethics I have experienced in my professional career! It is destined to shape the behavior of future generations in ways that should make us all much prouder of business as an entity and management as a career."
—Leonard A. Schlesinger, President- Babson College

"Corporate tragedies are usually the result of dozens of people who sit silently on the sidelines afraid or uncertain of what to do about a transgression. Giving Voice to Values by Mary C. Gentile aims to raise corporate behavior to a dramatically higher standard by ensuring that everyone not only can tell right from wrong, but knows what to do in the face of corporate misconduct and ensures that they will give voice to their values when it matters most."
—Jeffrey Hollender, author of The Responsibility Revolution and Co-Founder and Executive Chair of Seventh Generation. He is also the author of the leading blog on corporate responsibility.

“I can think of no better way to take ‘ethics’ out of the realm of pure philosophical discussion. Giving Voice to Values identifies what’s stopping us from acting on the values we feel strongly about. It gives us the tools, the courage and the understanding to be our better self in even the stickiest business situation.”
—Ira Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil Gotshal, Manges, Senior Associate Dean for Corporate Governance and the Eugene F. Williams, Jr. Visiting Professor for Competitive Enterprise and Strategy, Yale School of Management

"China as a nation, Chinese corporations and individual Chinese leaders are all facing a mid-life crisis. They are soul searching to decide which way to go for the next stage. They are adults and adults learn best from their own experience and the experiences of their peers. Nobody can dictate or preach to a successful entrepreneur; their best teacher is their heart, full of wisdom from street-fight experience. All they need is to crystallize their internal values through a process of external expression. Giving Voice to Values is doing just that and that is exactly what China needs. Launching GVV in China will be a striking success and it will be critical to China’s continued success."
—Dr. Morley C. Su, President of Millennium Capital Services, a leading Climate Change solutions provider in China, Ph. D in Business Ethics Education "Ethical dilemmas in business often are met with silence – not because the right answers were unknown, but because the right conversation wasn’t initiated. Giving Voice to Values is a tool to give us all the push we need to stay true to our values and moral compass in the face of the day-to-day challenges of life and business."
—David Langstaff, Chairman, Board of Directors, TASC, Inc.; Founder and Former CEO, Veridian Corporation

"Giving Voice to Values? Certainly a breakthrough in the teaching of business ethics, possibly a landmark in educating to responsibility and certainly a powerful (and attractive) learning vehicle at a time when leading business schools are, at last, rethinking their curriculum. We all know how challenging is the teaching of ethics, particularly in business schools (and in China possibly more than anywhere!). Mary C. Gentile's work proposes an original way to illustrate that beyond our teaching of the value of values we need to find ways to engage into the critical step to make them explicit. Then, we, organizations and the world might be on the path to become better."
—Henri-Claude de Bettignies, Distinguished Professor of Globally Responsible Leadership, China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS); The Aviva Chair Emeritus Professor of Leadership & Responsibility, INSEAD

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About the Author

Mary C. Gentile, Ph.D., consults on management education and values-driven leadership. In her ten-year tenure at Harvard Business School, she developed and taught the school’s first course on managing diversity, and helped design and taught its first required module on ethical decision-making. Currently she is director of the Giving Voice to Values curriculum and senior research scholar at Babson College. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, strategy+business, BizEd, CFO Magazine, and Risk Management, and she has written several book on ethics and diversity. She lives in Arlington, MA.

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