Two years ago, staff at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center looked out over the horizon and took stock of the future. The organization had gained momentum in recent years and was growing in more ways than one could count. BARCC was making plans to reach even more survivors of sexual violence, to help people heal in deeper and different ways, and to change the culture in places that needed it the most. But there was something missing.
Shelley Yen-Ewert, BARCC’s Director of Organizational Development and Learning, undertook the process to define BARCC’s vision and values.
“With BARCC’s growth we’ve wanted to formalize and communicate more clearly many things about BARCC,” she said. “Our vision and values are foundational to BARCC and we wanted to be as clear about them as we are with our mission statement.”
So what are vision and values statements? A vision statement looks to the future and paints a picture of an organization’s ultimate goal and what they want society to look like based on their work, while a values statement lists an organization’s core principles and guidelines for how to do the work.
The process of defining BARCC’s vision and values took nearly two years, and began with an all-staff retreat. Representatives from our volunteer programs participated in focus groups, as did some survivors who had used BARCC services, and came up with key points to guide the statements. Staff representing different departments at BARCC led the process, and all staff contributed input.
“The process was thoughtful, deliberative, and inclusive of the full array of BARCC stakeholders—staff, volunteers, survivors, the board, you name it. People really connected through the process,” said April Evans, BARCC Board of Directors treasurer.
The process had its challenges. Shelley said it was hard to express what everyone wanted to say briefly, and with language that people could easily understand. Nevertheless, she added: “I think this process was energizing because it gave language to why we do the work that we do. It was clear that we weren’t coming up with the vision and values, but surfacing what was already embedded into BARCC culture. While there was a lot of work around the details, across all of the groups at BARCC there was consistent agreement about our vision and values.”
"It was clear that we weren’t coming up with the vision and values, but surfacing what was already embedded into BARCC culture."
BARCC’s complete mission, vision, and values are live on our website, but our vision is this:
“Sexual violence thrives when people exploit power over others. Our vision is a society free of all forms of oppression, and therefore sexual violence does not exist. In this world, people only engage in sexual activity with their full will, happiness, and consent. Everyone is free to go about their daily lives knowing that their bodies, identities, minds, and spirits will always be valued and respected.”
April said reading the final product made it clear that the extensive collaboration resulted in powerful and concise statements.
“In the most direct and simple language possible, we have properly put sexual violence in the broader context of oppression, connecting it directly to any and all forms of the exploitation of power,” April said. “The values are a direct and logical extension of the vision. Laying out the values has provided BARCC a clarifying roadmap to enable us to work to achieve the vision. We are better and clearer as an organization as the result of the effort and intentionality we put into their creation.”
Shelley said BARCC’s vision and values will help ensure the organization’s growth is in line with the principles it was founded on. One example: being clear about what our vision and values are can help draw prospective volunteers and staff who have similar vision and values. They will also help BARCC develop its strategic plan.
Read BARCC’s full mission, vision, and values here.