Most banks, law firms and corporations adopt sophisticated diversity and inclusion initiatives, yet homogeneous leadership teams and unmet diversity targets persist. The pressure to “cover,” or tone down, aspects of one’s identity to conform to the dominant culture at work may be one reason for the slow progress. To highlight this issue, we joined forces with longtime client Barclays to host an event that took place simultaneously in London and New York.
Our seminar, “Uncovering Talent: Authenticity, Inclusion and Business Impact,” began with a keynote address by Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. Kenji’s speech, which was live in New York and video-linked to London, was followed by separate panel discussions in each office.
While employees who feel pressured to “cover” experience diminished confidence, perception of opportunity and professional performance, “covering” also hurts companies, Kenji pointed out. Data shows that diverse teams correlate to higher value among Fortune 500 companies. But it is not the mere fact of, for example, an individual’s skin color or sexual orientation that benefits their team. Rather, diverse teams excel at problem-solving because of the different life experiences and thought processes they bring to bear on challenges. To fully leverage that diversity, companies must expand their notion of the ideal worker so individuals feel freer to be authentic.
The panel discussions that followed Kenji’s speech focused on navigating authenticity in the workplace, the attributes of true inclusion and Barclays’s “Bring Your Whole Self to Work” campaign, which encourages employees to be themselves at work. Through this well-attended event, panel participants provided our colleagues and clients with insight into the ways in which uncovering talent improves not only the workplace satisfaction of a broad spectrum of workers, but also the bottom line.
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