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Deloitte Study: Lots of Straight White Guys Trying Not To Be Such Straight White Guys at Work

Diversity, as you all know, is critical to the success of any major company's efforts to appear as though they care about something other than making money.

You might hear something like, "We celebrate diversity at our firm because it's the right thing to do, yada yada yada, but it's also good for business."

Okay, so it's still about money. 

Anyway, accounting fims have had lots of success making inclusion an integral part of their "we care about stuff" messaging; so much so that they get recognized for their effortschat with influential people, and even train people how to be more inclusive-y. 

Yes, you might remember back in March when we were introduced to Deloitte University's Leadership Center for Inclusion. Here's what that was all about

"One of the primary goals of the Leadership Center for Inclusion is to fundamentally redefine what inclusion looks like in the workplace," said Smith. "This is not just about programs or initiatives; it is the leadership issue of our time."
The DU Leadership Center for Inclusion will host training programs, lectures and special events for Deloitte professionals, clients and thought leaders to further the dialogue on inclusion and share leading practices. In addition, the Center will foster innovation by expanding the understanding of inclusion through stories and discussions, which disrupt the traditional views of diversity and work-life fit.
Great. Wonderful.
With that in mind, here's what DU has in store for us today: 

A new study from the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion and law professor Kenji Yoshino indicates widespread instances of "covering," the process by which individuals downplay their differences relative to mainstream perceptions, in ways costly to their productivity and sense of self at work.  Three out of four (75 percent) research participants state that they have covered their identity; and, surprisingly, half (50 percent) of straight white male respondents report hiding their authentic selves on the job.

"Covering" is a wonderful euphemism, isn't it? 

What exactly are they covering? Here's a hit list:

  • Appearance: avoiding aspects of self-presentation — including grooming, attire, and mannerisms — identified with their group
  • Affiliation: avoiding behaviors identified with their group
  • Advocacy: avoiding engagement in activities on behalf of their group
  • Association: avoiding contact with individuals in their group

Straight white males are "covering" these things? How, exactly? By not listening to O.A.R. at work while wearing a wrinkled blue button-up shirt and going to lunch with any of their straight white male co-workers?

The press release goes on to explain that the "groups that are historically under-represented are "blacks (94 percent), women of color (91 percent) LGB (91percent) and women (80 percent)" was expected but the straight white guys thing was not.

Okay, fine. But if this study tells us anything, it's that nearly all work environments have managed to get a large portion of their people to avoid embracing the things that make them different from everyone else. What does that leave us? I guess it would result in a bunch of business casual clad drones who either talk shop or make idle chit chat throughout the day, conforming to whatever the organization has in mind for its ideal employee. In other words, a typical accounting firm.

I'm no expert, but that seems like the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you'd want.

Of course one could look at this way — if you (yes, you) aren't comfortable being authentic at work, and you (yes, you) aren't comfortable being authentic at work either, and I'm not comforable being authentic at work, then we're all being inauthentic together! And that's something, I guess.

New Deloitte Study Reveals that Half of Straight White Males Hide Their Authentic Selves at Work [Press Release] 
Uncovering Talent [Study]