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.

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