This course includes videos from:
Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law
Valerie Purdie Greenaway, professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University
Kelly Palmer, thought leader on learning, business, and career development
Note: This course was produced by Big Think. We are pleased to host this content in our library.
Skill Level Beginner
- Historically we've seen diversity or inclusion rather than diversity and inclusion. And what I mean by that is that companies really want inclusion, but they often predicate that inclusion on the surrender of various forms of diversity that people bring to the table. So the idea is that if you modulate your outsider identity to adopt mainstream behaviors, then you'll be included. And so it puts people to this tragic choice between their identity and inclusion. (contemplative music) The notion of authenticity itself is really predicated on a concept of human flourishing. And so I think that we really can't think about individuals within organizations as being able to flourish if they're leaving their authenticity at the door. One approach to this would be to say that it might've been easier in a less extreme work environment where you were kind of clocking out at five p.m. to allow people to surrender their authenticity and still expect them to be happy because let's imagine that I go to a workplace, and then I clock out at five p.m., and then I go home to my family and I can be authentic in my home, right? And so in that kind of era, this notion of organizations, or workplaces or corporations being concerned about people's authenticity was less of a imperative. You know, the modern organization is increasingly becoming this total institution, where it's very rare that you have a model in which people feel like they can just go to some other space and be authentic. If you're talking about 60, 70, 80 hour work weeks, then you're either going to be authentic at work, or you're going to be authentic in your sleep, right, or you're going to be authentic nowhere. And so that means that organizations, if they're going to ask so much of the whole person and ask for so much of that person's time, needs to be more attentive in the ways that workplaces in the past did not need to be about thinking about the entire human being and their human flourishing and their happiness. (contemplative music) I look at the notion of authenticity through Erving Goffman's term covering. So Erving Goffman was a sociologist who wrote back in the 1960s. And his notion of covering was the way in which we all modulate our identities in order to be accepted by the mainstream. And whether it's on the basis of race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or religion or disability, all of us engage in these practices where we downplay the things that push us outside of the mainstream, right? And that, as our study again shows, comes at a significant cost to people's sense of self. So, you know, I'm a rubber-hits-the-road kind of guy, so even if we find a high incidence of this practice of covering, which we found that 61% of individuals reported covering, I kind of thought, well, I don't care about this unless people report that it's harmful to them. If people say I do it, but it's not a big deal, then I don't care. But 60 to 73% of individuals, depending on the particular axis of covering that we looked at, said that this was somewhat to extremely detrimental to their sense of self. So that's something that we really need to be attentive to if we want people to really flourish in whatever organization they inhabit. (contemplative music)