UNICEF's culture

Living our core values

موظفة تابعة لليونيسف تجلس مع صبي صغير، العراق
UNICEF/UN071851/UN049380/Khuzaie

“We are committed to a new era at UNICEF – one anchored by our strong, enduring commitment to achieving results for children and young people, and one grounded in openness, transparency and respect.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore

UNICEF is driven by five core values: care, respect, integrity, trust and accountability. A range of initiatives has been established to ensure these values form the basis of UNICEF operations and guide the world’s leading organization for children and young people.

To remain true to our mandate to help children and defend their rights, UNICEF’s internal culture must value and nurture the unique contributions made by our diverse global workforce. How we work – how we deliver results for children – cannot be separated from the results themselves. As an organization that champions the rights of children globally, we as UNICEF must champion the same standards for our own staff. 

Respecting, acknowledging and listening to our people will help us achieve lasting results for every child.


Read about our journey of transformation


In February 2018, UNICEF embarked on a range of initiatives to help us live our core values. These initiatives include:

  • Promoting a ‘speak-up culture’ to help create a safer and more inclusive workplace through online platforms, training and other initiatives promoted by UNICEF’s management and staff association.
  • Commissioning a series of reports in 2018 and 2019 to give us better insights of different aspects of our culture, so that we can put in place the necessary improvements.
  • Strengthening how we communicate and engage with our staff, including through increasing global and local townhall meetings to give everyone who works at UNICEF an opportunity to voice key concerns and questions, and to get answers from senior leaders in real time.
  • Implementing measures towards gender equality in the workplace to achieve EDGE certification.
  • Prioritizing progress on our organization-wide gender equality agenda through the UN System-wide Action Plan (UN-SWAP) for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.
  • Establishing an Independent Task Force on Workplace Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Harassment and Abuse of Authority, to identify issues and advise on how to address them through culture change and change management. The recommendations of the Task Force are being actioned. Read about progress.
  • Recruiting an Organizational Culture Change Advisor in the Office of the Executive Director to lead sustainable culture change based on UNICEF’s core values and on the findings of the different reports commissioned in 2018 and 2019.
  • Establishing a peer-to-peer staff appreciation programme to recognize and celebrate staff who demonstrate UNICEF’s core values.
  • Strengthening our procedures for hiring managers at all levels, including senior leaders, with additional vetting and reference checks, including reference to the UN system-wide Clear Check database.
  • Establishing a new set of behaviours and competencies expected of all UNICEF staff, with a stronger focus on people skills, such as self-awareness.
  • Improving our investigation and accountability mechanisms for inappropriate conduct, with more investigators on board, improved access to mediation services for staff, and stronger policies in place. 

The benefits of this journey of organizational culture change are huge. As we build a better UNICEF within, we are building a better world for children and young people. A more respectful, values-based work culture will ultimately make us even more effective at delivering results for children, everywhere we work. We will continue improving this organization, and keep alive our motivation for change.

To find out more, please contact orgculture@unicef.org.


Learn more

UNICEF's journey of organizational transformation

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore’s message to staff on the report of the Independent Task Force on Workplace Gender-discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority

UNICEF's Strategy on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment