“EVEN AFTER YOU’VE FORMALLY INCLUDED OTHER GROUPS, THE NORMS HAVE
BEEN HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION TO EMBODY A
CERTAIN SET OF VALUES, AND THOSE VALUES HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED
WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF NEWCOMERS TO THE WORKPLACE IN MIND.”
So we asked in our survey what are the harms to the individual
and what are the harms to the organization.
With regard to harm to individuals, we adopted a relatively parsi-monious
definition of harm. Even with this definition, we still found
that of respondents who said they had to cover in the workplace, 60
to 73 per cent, depending on the axis see sidebar, said that it was
somewhat to extremely detrimental to their sense of self.
Then with regard to the organizations, we asked, “If your leaders
expect you to cover, then how does that affect your commitment
to the organization?” More than half, 53 per cent of people, said
their leaders did expect them to cover and of that 53 per cent,
50 per cent said that it somewhat to extremely diminished their
commitment to the organization. For us, that tells its own story
if organizations are looking for the leak in the pipeline – where
they are losing people even with very diverse workforces. In ad-dition
to simply having people walk out the door, organizations
are also worried about people burning out or browning out when
they’re sitting at their desks. We felt we had gotten a key piece of
data when we saw that result.
One of the things that’s exciting at this moment in time is that
there’s a lot of research been done on psychological safety and au-thenticity.
Psychological safety, a term coined by Harvard Business
School professor Amy Edmondson, refers to a climate of inter-personal
trust and mutual respect in which one is confident being
one’s self. There’s a direct link between psychological safety which
leads to authenticity which leads to higher performance. Google,
for example, did a great study of their 80 top performing teams
and they found the highest correlate for high performance was the
existence of psychological safety.
What changes can organizations make to improve in
KY: We talked about the question, “If everyone has to cover then
why is this a big deal? Isn’t this just a pact everyone makes when
they go into the workplace?”
I want to turn that universality on its head and say that any
paradigm of diversity and inclusion that doesn’t include straight
white men is a failed paradigm. So when we see that 45 per cent
of straight white men report covering see sidebar, we have to be-come
curious about how they cover. The answers include things
like socioeconomic status, background, mental disability or illness,
age, religion, veteran status; there are myriad ways that straight
white men cover.
I think once you see that, then it becomes a universal project
of making the workplace consistent with the organization’s val-ues.
Allow for more authenticity, which we know from the Google
study and other studies is highly correlated with retention and
performance. It’s not diverse individuals versus non-diverse indi-viduals.
Everyone has some axis of difference from the mainstream
so this really has to be a universal project of authenticity rather
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