Values

Our values define the spirit in which we want to carry out our work—with one another and everyone we partner with—so that together we can help improve people’s lives.

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Staff members listen to colleagues share personal anecdotes of gratitude at an IGNITE session during the annual All Employee Week at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, WA on May 14, 2019.

We are guided by five core values

We are impatient optimists by nature: we see the glass as half full and are motivated to confront problems that others consider impossible to solve. We believe we have a unique role to play as catalysts for change and that the most intractable challenges are exactly those we are best equipped to tackle. We strive to be tenacious in the face of adversity, focus on the future, and persevere with an understanding that our success will be measured over years and decades—not days and months.

We recognize that our resources and abilities are only a small part of what is needed to achieve our goals and that our impact is greater when we work with others. We strive to be self-aware, listen and learn with humility, and be mindful that we do not have all the answers. We strive to treat others with respect and conduct our work in the spirit of transparency and openness. Whether we are building consensus or challenging assumptions, we understand that collaborative solutions are the best path to sustainable change.

We pursue our mission with focus, discipline, and rigor to maximize our impact. The challenges we seek to overcome demand thoughtful analysis, intellectual dialogue, and commitment to data integrity, although not to the point of paralysis. We strive to hold ourselves to the highest standards and expect others to do the same. Our conversations are open, honest, and sometimes tough for all concerned. We strive to take responsibility for our actions and rectify our mistakes, acknowledging our accountability to the communities where we work.

We believe that many of the most intractable problems can be solved only through creative and innovative solutions. In pursuit of these, we embrace risk and try to learn from failure, helping others to avoid the same pitfalls in future. We strive to remain focused, strategic, and calculated in our risk taking as we challenge conventions, question assumptions, and confront stereotypes.

We define inclusion as an environment that actively welcomes, connects, and values all, while harming none. We aspire to be a place where employees and partners feel included. We know this is not only the right thing to do, but an internal analysis across multiple datasets also found evidence that “an inclusive environment is strongly associated with greater employee impact, more engaged employees, and a better grantee experience.”

More about the foundation

Our story

Learn about the origins of the foundation and the values that drive our work.

Our role

Learn how our foundation fits among the many institutions working to improve the world.

Our work

Learn about where we work around the globe and the programs we’ve created to address urgent issues in global health, global development, and education.

Ideas

Read the latest stories, research, and news from across the foundation and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Optimist.