Diversity and Inclusion

Why the Whole Self Is Best

I was lucky to work with the executive team of one of Root’s clients at a resort in Puerto Rico several years ago. Poor me, right? Nope. It was definitely not rough. 😊

While I did enjoy the work and my trip, one of the most valuable things I learned during that experience was from a coworker. When introducing himself to the client, he gave his work credentials and mentioned the accolades he’d received. And then went on to talk about his areas of passion, which include cooking, art, and travelling with his wife. He explained that only by bringing our entire selves to everything we do can we be our most authentic and successful selves, both individually and in partnership with others. This was mind-blowing for me.

In my previous positions at other companies, personal and work did not only not collide, it was discouraged. We spoke about ourselves based on our skills and accomplishments to engender trust and confidence in our coworkers and clients. That’s not to say I didn’t have friends in my previous workplaces, but I didn’t know the “whole selves” of the people I worked with every day, nor did I ever become fast friends with clients like I do now. Today, I thoughtfully consider how all my experiences and passions apply to what I do at work, not just my professional experience. It’s refreshing to be encouraged and valued for being my whole self without spending energy on compartmentalizing.

The Fear of Backlash

Many Americans were personally or peripherally impacted by the mass shooting in Las Vegas a couple months ago. This tragic act was awful and my heart goes out to all affected. Before the killer was identified as a white male, there were many Black people and those of Muslim faith who were worried. Does that surprise you? It surprised me. It didn’t even occur to me that would be a reaction.

As I read about the fear these specific groups felt, I realized their feelings were based on the fact that had the killer been a Black person, or a person of Muslim faith, individuals in those groups could face backlash. Some might face anger, discrimination, or slurs from others who (wrongly) believe that those who share a characteristic or complexion with a killer are as a guilty as the killer himself. It’s happened far too many times in our recent history. This shouldn’t have surprised me . . . but I’m white. I’ve never experienced the things many Black people face every day. Or things many people in other marginalized groups see or hear daily. This realization made me incredibly sad. It’s a sad and complicated reality that individuals feel such fear when they aren’t personally involved in any wrongdoing. We have so much work to do in valuing our fellow human beings.

Diversity and Inclusion Includes Embracing Your Employees’ Authentic Selves

What does this have to do with Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace? When our colleagues don’t feel safe, or fear retribution, or don’t feel heard, or don’t feel valued, they can’t bring their whole and authentic selves to work. It can even be a struggle to bring their work selves, let alone their personal selves. And we all lose. Those employees aren’t embraced, their colleagues and teammates aren’t getting the full value they can bring to the work they do, and organizations aren’t achieving full value for compensation. Is that the employee’s fault? Absolutely not. Much can be said about the systems in place that have resulted in outcomes such as this, but much can also be done to change and fix them.

How Does Your Organization Embrace Your Employees’ Whole Selves?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all employees felt safe, included, valued, and embraced? If all employees worked together to achieve amazing outcomes? If all employees could bring their whole and authentic selves to their job every day?

I’d love to know how your organization works to achieve these outcomes and embraces Diversity and Inclusion. Please share your stories in the comments or like this post if it resonated. Let’s work together to be our whole selves every day.

January 11, 2018


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