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What Does Your Co-op Value?

One of the many fantastic things about cooperatives is that we as Owners get to decide what our community-owned business values.

Last year, the Chicago Market Board of Directors undertook a process to create a value statement to reflect the Co-op’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The result is a recently approved addition to our list of Values: Justice.

What do we mean by "values"?

In addition to Justice, Chicago Market values Relationships, Ownership, Sustainability, Accountability, and Joy. Read on our “About” page to see how each of these is articulated.

As part of our process for creating the new Value, we took a moment to reflect on exactly what we mean by “values.” Here are a few examples from our discussion:

•  "Values are guiding principles or touchstones that we measure ourselves against."
•  "Values are what we look to for being on the right track and whether we are living up to what we want to be."
•  "Values express what is important to us as an organization, our core set of beliefs."
•  "Values help communicate our mission to the world and our expectations for one another."

In short, values are important!

Why "Justice"?

Chicago Market’s vision is broader than just our physical store—our vision is for a better food community—local, sustainable, connected.

An important part of being in community with one another is the recognition that people suffer harm through oppression and discrimination at multiple levels—sometimes at a personal level but often through how organizations and institutions are structured and interact with each other in systems throughout society. With that recognition, we believe there must also be a commitment to counteracting oppression and discrimination at each level where it occurs.

Within the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) space, there are many different terms that mean different things to people depending on the context. We chose Justice, defined through the words in our value statement, to express our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-oppression and our dedication to taking actions to better pursue these goals.

What’s next?

One way we can live into our Justice Value is of course making our store and shopping experience inclusive for all members of our community and ensuring everyone can experience a sense of belonging through participating in our cooperative enterprise.

Additionally, the way we govern, what our policies are, and what programs or initiatives we pursue must be continually evaluated for how we might improve to facilitate justice and fairness. An example of leaning into Justice is our recently launched Ownership grant program for community members that need a pathway to Ownership with no out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to increasing diversity and inclusiveness amongst our Owners, we also know that Chicago Market needs to do better in the diversity of our Board and other volunteer leadership roles to better reflect the breadth of perspectives, expertise, and lived experiences in our community. As one of the non-Board Owner reviewers of our draft Justice Value pointed out, "one of the best ways to embody those ideals is to literally reflect them, in your board, staff, as well as the community you serve."

Would you like to help us lean into our Value of Justice? Becoming an Owner, volunteering with us, and considering running for the Board are all great ways to jump in. Email us if you would like to get involved!

Together, we can ensure our Values are not just words but truly reflect who we are and flow throughout everything we do in this great cooperative mission we are privileged to be a part of.


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