New report reveals that as many as 94% of African Americans downplay their “difference” to fit in at the office

sangeetaA new study just released describes the process of “covering” as those who attempt to downplay their relative areas of “difference” in order to fit into the corporate culture.  African Americans, women of color and women are most likely to minimize or cover their differences resulting in a number of trouble spots for corporate America.  This article is a new take on diversity and inclusion in the workplace that speaks to utilizing a innovative approaches to creating inclusive work environments.  Sangeeta Haindl blogs about the implications.

Diversity in the Workplace: More Work Ahead, by Sangeeta Haindl in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Companies are still failing to make significant progress when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the work place. A recent white paper titled, Uncovering Talent co-authored by Professor Kenji Yoshino at New York University School of Law, and Christie Smith Deloitte University Leadership Centre for Inclusion Managing Principal explain how little progress we have really made when it comes to full inclusion. The study draws on research from respondents spanning seven industries and a mix of ages, genders, race/ethnicities, orientations and seniority levels, as well as Yoshino’s award-winning book “Covering” and Smith’s work in researching leadership, values and organisational culture.

This study indicates widespread instances of “covering,” the process by which individuals downplay their differences relative to mainstream perceptions, in ways that are costly to their productivity and sense of self, at work. Three out of four (75 per cent) research participants state that they have covered their identity; and, surprisingly, half (50 per cent) of straight white male respondents report hiding their authentic selves on the job. The authors suggest that most inclusion programs require people to assimilate into the overall corporate culture. This leaves very little room for people to actually be who they are at work.  Read more here.

LGBT Workplace Inclusion Guide for China Launched

LGBT ChinaOn Sept. 21 in Beijing, IBM and Goldman Sachs helped launch a new guide to LGBT inclusion in the workplace. According to Gay Star News, the Asian workplace diversity non-profit group Community Business created the “Creating Inclusive Workplaces for LGBT Employees in China” resource guide, which highlights the business case for addressing the needs of LGBT employees and provides the cultural and legal context of LGBT issues in China.  Read more.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Value of Diversity in Higher Education

u-m“Significantly, the existing precedent established in the Michigan case regarding the importance of diversity in the educational context remains valid.”

On Monday, June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in the Fisher v. UT Austin case. In that case, the Caucasian plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, challenged the admissions program of The University of Texas at Austin (UT) and contended that her denial of admission violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. This was a highly watched case and over 70 amicus briefs were filed, most in support of UT’s holistic admissions process which considers an applicant’s race/ethnicity as one of several factors regarding admission to the school.

The case is especially significant for diversity and inclusion practitioners.  While the plaintiff purported not to challenge existing law, there was considerable concern that the high Court might do just that, overrule the Michigan Law School case.  In Grutter v. Bollinger, decided in 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the Law School’s use of race/ethnicity as one of several “plus factors” in an admissions process that evaluated the overall individual contribution of each candidate for admissions.   The Court recognized that Michigan had a compelling state interest is achieving the educational benefits of a diverse  student body.  The Court’s agreement to review the Fisher case so soon after the Grutter decision put the holding of the Michigan case at risk.

Read more here.