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Being yourself. A luxury we don't have at work?

· equality,Authenticity

I'm reading a book at the moment called The Glass Wall. I'd recommend it as it doesn't pull any punches about why women are not always getting on in the workplace as easily as they'd like, and uses lots of real women's stories to illustrate how and why they do or don't get on.

Unlike many books of its type, it's not all about having children. It's more about behaviour patterns and how women might hold themselves back in the workplace - and a certain reality - which is that the people at the top of many businesses are still predominately male. That is just a fact and it has an impact that's hard to avoid.

It's making me think about two things though:-

1. Why are women navel-gazing so much (me included) about how it's going and why that might be, instead of just getting on with it?

2. Does anyone write books about how men behave in the workplace and the impact that has on other men?

There are actually a lot of good tips in the book and many occasions where I pulled myself up short and thought "I do that" or "I've done that in the past. However, as one of the case study women points out, she's tired of having to deal with advice about how women should and shouldn't behave in the workplace to get on. In particular women are often told that they need to be pushier, more direct, braver. But you know what, it takes a lot of energy to go through life being someone else.

I bet that there are also a lot of men who are behaving like they think you should behave in the workplace. I know for a fact that many don't behave that way at home, but they develop a hard carapace to deal with the slings and arrows of being surrounded all day by people you might not choose and having to navigate the politics of that. Being firm and direct protects you and prevents push back. But it also stifles creativity, stifles the new idea from the quieter, less pushy person which might make a real difference to the business. And it means that we all come to work every day in fancy dress. Dressed up as someone else. That's exhausting.

Is authenticity possible? Do we encourage it? Do we not actually want to be ourselves at work, or is it now so engrained as a behavioural pattern that we just can't shake it off?

What does the real you think? I'd love to know....