Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

How Much of Your Identity Do You Have to Leave at the Door to be Successful?

Diversity and inclusion advocates routinely face a dilemma when encouraging women and diverse people to learn and play by unwritten rules in white male-dominated workplaces.

They know there is a price to be paid for this accommodation — time spent modifying behaviors to fit in takes away from bringing the full force of your talents and strengths to your work which could impact performance.  Additionally, there is a personal cost to hiding parts of your identity in order to be successful.  The tension is very difficult to resolve.

Hopefully, as organizations begin to add inclusiveness to their traditional diversity efforts, they will begin to address the hidden barriers that force female and diverse employees to walk this fine line. The benefits to the organization are significant – happier, more engaged employees and a healthier bottom-line.  The culture shift begins with understanding the hidden barriers.

Brandeis Professor Andy Molinsky has written a new book on global cultural competence – Global Dexterity – that talks about individuals building the capacity to adapt their behavior to the norms of the culture they’re in without losing themselves in the process.  He calls it “fitting in without giving in.”  Although the book is focused on global cross-cultural situations, there are lessons that transfer to any workplace.  Watch this video of the author talking about key concepts.