Bring your whole self to work

This month’s Water Cooler Session on diversity was topical for me. Firstly because we had male representation again (that’s two months in a row!) and secondly, as I’m about to take four months off work to have a baby, I’ve started to get an insight into the things you need to think about when juggling work and parenting.

Macquarie’s Banking & Financial Services internal communication team took us through what they’ve been doing to promote diversity at work. Their campaign didn’t focus on gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion but rather the concept that you should be able to bring your whole self to work.

Employees were asked to share something about themselves that their colleagues wouldn’t know such as ‘I used to be a professional gymnast’, ‘I have a PhD in Australian tennis’ or ‘I don’t like scary movies’.

The idea being that you don’t have to hide who you are at work. That whoever you are, it’s safe to share (if you want to).

This made me think about a story I heard recently from a friend. She’d just returned to work after maternity leave and got a call to say her child was sick. She rushed home but the next day a well-meaning colleague took her to one side and suggested that when she had to leave early, she didn’t make it public that her kids were the reason as it would be frowned upon.

I wonder if that company had a diversity policy. Maybe even a shiny brochure that promotes them as an equal opportunities employer?

Sometimes there is a mismatch between what we say and what we do and you can bet your employees see through that. We can talk a good game about how diverse we are, yet some of the cultural norms in a company can say otherwise.

I liked Macquarie’s approach. No great claims or quotas. Just an attitude of respecting the individual for who they are.

And on that note, we’ll be taking a short break from the Water Cooler Sessions while I have my baby. Hopefully my clients will still be there when I get back and hopefully I’ll manage to juggle work and parenting without feeling like I’m doing at badly at both.

Posted on September 1st, 2012.  0 Comments


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