CSW61 Values Caucus Community Discussion: The Value of Work


On the final afternoon of the first week, the Values Caucus held a community discussion to reflect on ‘The Value of Work”.  We opened with the question:  “What work is, and what it meant to each of us.”

Before we began our discussions a quote was read from Shakti Leadership – (written by Nilima Bhat, Raj Sisodia)

“Love is a word that is finally emerging from the corporate closet.  For too long, business has ben run purely on self-interest, leaving aside the equally powerful human need to care. Bringing caring or love into the workplace is an inevitable by-product of embracing Shakti Leadership.  In fact, it is already happening in conscious companies – and not just because it seems like a nice thing o do.  Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera Bead, believes that Love is a competitive advantage.  When you can give voice to and capture love, you can activate all kinds of things in people which is way different than the model which says they should show up and we will pay you $X per hour.  You don’t have to make a business case for love.”

We were a relatively small group of mostly women, with a few men so each participant was able to share their perspective, initiating a memorable conversation. Some ideas are shared below:

The word ‘work’ should be abolished!  It limits the action of the human soul to express itself creatively.  We should not be so compartmentalized.  We need to take away the limits so that our own unique resources and specialties are used to create without boundaries.

In the past in Africa work was not separated from life.  Each was expected to, and wanted to, work hard to contribute to and cooperate with the community.  There were no such things as scheduling tea and coffee breaks or having holidays.  Work was a way of being.  It was valued as part of the African life, and this is how it should be.  The work of each one was for the well being of the whole and added value.  The community was part of that value – if all of us are okay, the community is okay, our life is okay.

As an unpaid volunteer it is important to connect to the inspiration behind the work or ‘service’ allowing for creativity, purposefulness, and joy to be sustained.  Care and attention to oneself need to be taken to make sure the work/service doesn’t become a duty one feels obliged to do.

As a very young refugee from Chile, work was a matter of survival; there is no thought of what you want to do, you are just surviving. Later, after being settled and when there was time and space to think and reconnect to the true purpose of life work was found to be a way to express purpose.  This gave energy to the work being done, because often people who are working just to survive are very drained, emotionally and physically.

The practice of meditation brings balance, so that it is less about work/life balance, but more about a unifying perspective or experience that is holistic; work is not separated from life it is an expression of it.  Self-knowledge and reflection energizes work with a sense of meaning and purpose.

Participants not only looked at how the values of service, purpose, creativity, cooperation, community and meditation were connected to the feminine principles of love and care, but how we could connect these values to a structural system that would bring a ‘systems change’ to the changing world of work.