There's often a gap between making an EVP and using one. It's a lot easier to get senior people to agree to a form of words than to have them follow through with cultural and behavioural changes and new expenditures. Other priorities come up. But this creates a gap not just between the writing and using of the EVP: it creates a gap between what you promise and what people experience. 

Business is already live to this issue in candidate experience. We know that up to 25% of people who have a poor candidate experience can end up boycotting you as consumers.  For retail and customer facing business this is a huge risk especially as they often deal with large volumes of unsuccessful applications. 

Alas, it doesn't stop there. 

Comms are only as good as the reality they reflect. Inspirational messages and compelling propositions need to be true. You wouldn't promise your customers or clients something you can't deliver. Although the relationship is different, the same principle holds true with employees. Diversity is perhaps the most compelling example at the moment. 

A study reported by the Harvard Business Review suggests that most diversity policies don't succeed: they are there to work as a corporate fig leaf. It's not unless people believe in diversity in their gut that organisations change. Most of the policies are there for the benefit of the legal department. 


As the authors in HBR said:

‘All this has a real effect in court. In a 2011 Supreme Court class action case, Walmart successfully used the mere presence of its anti-discrimination policy to defend itself against allegations of gender discrimination. And Walmart isn’t alone: the “diversity defense” often succeeds, making organizations less accountable for discriminatory practices.’

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that employees ought not to take notice of what is said over what is done. Take Google, for instance. First, they fired a talented engineer for disagreeing with their diversity policies and communication. Then it turns out the policy hadn't changed their diversity ratios much. And now they are being sued for gender discrimination by a group of women employees. Google customers don't care what they say. It's how the search bar works that determines the brand. The diversity issue shows how true that is for people. People are watching who get promoted what money gets spent what changes are made. Words will only get you so far. Lucy Kellaway once showed that not having publicly stated values correlates with higher corporate earnings. 

That's not about not having values. It's about focusing on living them, not just putting them in the lobby.