Trigger warning: Gun violence is mentioned in this post.
I asked a question in a Facebook group for LGBTQ+ professionals about whether having a community of LGBTQ+ colleagues at work helps you professionally. I was surprised at the number of responses that said discussions about your identity don’t belong in the workplace. The responses were somewhere along the line of “just do your job.”
How does this play out? When our hetero colleagues share milestones related to finding love, getting married, having kids, etc., do we stay silent about our own lives and “just do the job?”
When a project team strategizes around a new software for collecting critical medical information, do we stay silent when we notice that there aren’t adequate options for transgender and non-binary people?
When a guy shoots up a LGBTQ+ nightclub–a safe space for LGBTQ+ to love and express themselves freely–do we just go about business as usual on Monday morning, even though we are grieving inside?
Identity matters. Company cultures that provide space for people to express who they are create psychologically safer workplaces where employees spend less time protecting themselves (playing defense) and more time being creative, innovative and communicative (playing offense). Your identity matters. Expressing (or not expressing) your identity impacts your mental health, confidence, performance, relationships and self-actualization.
Resources on identity at work:
Identity in the Workplace (podcast)
Creating an Individual Work Identity (scholarly article)
Coming Out at Work (article)
The Neuroscience of Identity (article)
About the Author: Kirsten Bunch is a writer, speaker and certified leadership and career coach who helps LGBTQ+ professionals get promoted to leadership positions without sacrificing their queer identities. Get your free The Out CEO Checklist.