When Stated Values Are Not Lived Values

In NLYB Solutions’ signature framework, SHIFT, we address the difference between stated values and lived values. Sometimes, there is a clear disconnect between the two. What is the difference? Stated values are aspirational. They are who we think we are or hope to be. Stated values are often set aside when they are inconvenient or hard to live by. Lived values guide your priorities, decision-making, and actions.

Organizational diversity statements are often an example of stated values. The work, however, is turning those stated values into lived values. Let’s take a real-world look at how stated values and lived values are sometimes incongruent.

Stated Values

Here is The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), taken from the company’s website:

The Walt Disney Company’s goal for a reimagined tomorrow demands transparency and accountability. From our people and culture to our content and experiences, we are working together to translate our intentions into actions.

Here are requests from one of Disney’s recent shareholder meetings and how the company asked shareholders to vote.

Lived Values

Request for an annual report disclosing information regarding lobbying policies and activities – AGAINST

Request for a diligence report evaluating human rights impacts – AGAINST

Request for a report on both medium and adjusted pay gaps across race and gender – AGAINST

Request for a workplace non-discrimination audit and report – AGAINST

Disconnect Between Stated Values and Lived Values

Disney stated a commitment to transparency and accountability, yet they seem to be asking shareholders to vote against the very transparency and accountability to which they made a public commitment. They ask shareholders to vote against transparency and accountability of their lobbying policies and activities, their human rights impacts, their pay gaps across race and gender, and workplace non-discrimination. 

They state a commitment to working together to translate their “intentions into actions.” How do you work together to translate intentions into actions if there is no transparency or accountability for those actions?

To turn the stated values into lived values, Disney would have asked the board to vote FOR these items. That would prompt transparency and actionability, and the resulting information would allow the company to monitor its efforts to turn intentions into action.

Organizations can write impressive statements of commitment to DEI but vote and act against those very commitments behind closed doors. The stated values sound great, but shareholders are asked to vote in a way that is incongruent to their DEI commitment. Their lived values—decision-making, priority setting, actions, and behaviors—are incongruent with their stated values.

There should be no duplicity between who organizations state themselves to be and their actions. Stated values must be turned into lived values. 

In what ways are your organizational priorities, decisions, and actions incongruent with your diversity statement? How can your organization close the gap between stated values and lived values?

Nicole L. Yeldell Butts
Nicole L. Yeldell Butts

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