Why Workplace Authenticity is Important

A roundup of what we’ve published on authenticity, and why you should care.

By Kim Kelly, CAE


We’ve written about authenticity here before. It’s a buzz-worthy topic right now and has relevance to creating a Welcoming Environment. But what does it mean to be authentic at work? What’s the risk to bringing your whole self to work? Writer Jodi-Ann Burey outlines the risks of being authentic at work in her TEDx talk below. She likens authenticity as showing up as yourself to a costume party and being excluded from the costume contest because you did what was asked of you. As a disabled woman of color, she has learned through experience that bringing her full self to work is risky and carries consequences.

At the end of Burey’s talk, she says “So no, this Black disabled immigrant woman will not be bringing her full, authentic self to work. But she is asking that you, those of you with the power of your positions and the protection of your whiteness and other societal privileges you did not earn, to take on that risk instead.”
If workplaces want to truly cultivate a Welcoming Environment, authenticity can’t just be a buzz word on your careers webpage; it has to come from the topmost levels of the organization. Like I said, we’ve written about this before. Below are some articles from the past year that lay groundwork for a more authentic workplace (and why it’s important). 

The New Leadership Model

April 20, 2021 | By Teresa Brinati

In this article–one of the most popular on this site–Brinati writes about authenticity and empathy in leadership. She spoke with several association CEOs on how they strive to model these characteristics and what benefits they bring their organizations.

Sorry for the Background Noise

March 30, 2021 | By Mehjeda Ali

Ali was due to end maternity leave just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down offices in spring of 2020. In this beautifully written article, she reflects on the year working from home with her baby at her side and how difficult it was to straddle workplace norms of “professionalism” while also caring for a newborn.

Office workers analyze data that's spread out on a table.

What Associations Should Know–and Do–About the Great Resignation

Dec. 10, 2021 | By Kate Rockwood

Do you have job openings? Welcome to the club! It’s no wonder that the same employees who are fed up enough to quit their jobs are also looking for more out of their professional lives. Authenticity plays a role in the “great resignation.” Read this article to find out how.

Steps to Make Members Out of Gen Z

Oct. 5, 2021 | By Kate Rockwood

Whether you’re thinking of membership or hiring, young people appreciate authenticity. “Associations don’t have to drastically upend all their practices to entice this younger generation, but they should take steps to better meet the needs of Gen Z workers,” Rockwood writes.

A Conversation with Woman of Influence Honoree Mary Lynn Fayoumi

Feb. 22, 2021 | By Kim Kelly

About a year ago, I spoke with Mary Lynn Fayoumi after she’d won Association Forum’s Woman of Influence award. She spoke about her career journey, HR practices, women’s issues in the workplace, and more. One thing was abundantly clear, Fayoumi is a champion of authenticity and we can all learn something from her leadership style.

We hope you enjoyed this roundup of articles on authenticity. If you have a topic suggestion or would like to write for FORUM, please contact me at Kelly@AssociationForum.org.



About the Author

Kim Kelly is Association Forum's Editorial Consultant. She has more than 13 year's experience in association management and owns <a href="https://kimkellyconsulting.com/">Kim Kelly Consulting</a>.

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