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What does it mean to be your true or authentic self at work?

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 4 years ago
  • Author:by Sarah Roebuck

What does it mean to be your true or authentic self at work? In essence, it’s about embracing who you really are, and not feeling like you have to be someone else or act in a certain way.

Under increasing societal pressures, we often feel like we have to adhere to social norms, changing our personas or covering up aspects of ourselves, for fear of not fitting in, being judged or even being discriminated against.

But what we sometimes don’t realise is how much energy we expend trying to be someone weren’t not, and how much of a burden and impact that can create on our day-to-day lives.

Creating inclusive workplaces must be a priority

Being your true self can sometimes be a struggle, particularly in the workplace, where we spend around a third of our lifetime.

Whilst people might want to bring their full, authentic selves to work, this requires an inclusive culture, whereby they feel safe and comfortable in doing so. Without this, unauthenticity creeps its way in, leading to stress, a decline in confidence, tainted working relationships and ultimately limiting people from reaching their full potential.

Research from the Journal of Social Issues found that hiding you are at work not only diminishes your sense of belonging but also lowers self-esteem, job satisfaction and commitment at work. 

This is one of the main reasons why creating an inclusive work environment should be a priority for all companies, across all industries.

This is a really good thing for everyone

Mike Robbins, author of Bring Your Whole Self to Work says "When we don’t bring our whole selves to work we suffer – lack of engagement, lack of productivity, and our well-being is diminished.  We aren’t able to do our best, most innovative work, and we spend and waste too much time trying to look good, fit in, and do or say the 'right' thing.”

And this can only be good for organisations. Better performance and employee satisfaction can not only help improve retention and bottom line profitability, but a diverse and inclusive workplace is becoming an increasingly desirable trait for the next generation of jobseekers.

At a previous Dive In Festival, Rugby Legend Gareth Thomas talked to an audience about the power of being able to be your true self at work. “Do you realise how high you can jump or how fast you can run if you aren’t carrying a weight on your shoulders?” Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, said that embracing his authentic self has had a positive impact on his performance on the rugby pitch.

This can also help prevent rising mental health problems which are often instigated by work-related stress, which in turn is said to affect around half a million people in the UK alone.

Over the course of this week, we'll be sharing articles and stories that are helping amplify the voices that are pushing for change in our sector. Follow us on LinkedIn to join the conversation.