Inclusion survey: Uncovering talent

Why inclusion matters in the workplace

The ideal of inclusion aims for a culture where individuals can be their authentic selves at work. However, most inclusion efforts have not addressed how organizational culture might be contributing to covering in the workplace. This inclusion survey aims to uncover talent by suggesting a new model of inclusion.

Rediscovering inclusion

The ideal of inclusion has long been to allow individuals to bring their authentic selves to work. However, most inclusion efforts have not explicitly and rigorously addressed the pressure to conform that prevents individuals from realizing that ideal. This study hypothesizes that a model of inclusion analyzing that pressure might be beneficial to historically underrepresented groups. Indeed, given that everyone has an authentic self, a culture of greater authenticity might benefit all individuals, including the straight White men who have traditionally been left out of the inclusion paradigm. To test this theory, this research draws on the concept of “covering.”

Part 1: The concept of covering

Covering, or downplaying certain aspects of one’s identities, is widespread in today’s workplace. Today’s workers may cover in four distinct ways.

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Part 2: Covering in the workplace

The majority of our 3,000 respondents reported having engaged in covering in the workplace. While some groups reported incidents of covering more than others, covering was a common experience across the board.

Overall, they reported a perceived social expectations that involved managing aspects of their identity to fit into the mainstream. Individuals felt they had to manage their identities alongside their jobs.

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Part 3: The organizational impact of covering

The commitment to diversity and inclusion is now an almost universally held value in corporate America. In the survey, 93 percent of respondents stated that their organizations articulated inclusion as a value. However, only 78 percent of respondents felt their organizations lived up to those values. That is to say, about one-quarter of respondents felt their organizations were not walking the talk.

As the workforce continues to evolve, it’s important to understand that covering can negatively affect an individuals’ sense of self and diminish their commitment to their organizations.

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Part 4: The Uncovering Talent model and the future of inclusion

The Uncovering Talent model is designed to create “bridging capital” by understanding how and why someone may cover certain identities. In doing so, an organization may then begin to help people find common ground and develop a culture of authenticity.

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