Debate finds it is not really a good idea to bring your whole self to work

Media releases
Topics Inclusion

The Diversity Council Australia and National Australia Bank Annual Diversity Debate held in Sydney last night found it is not really a good idea to bring your whole self to work, with the audience voting in favour of the Negative team by 57% to 43%.

The Debate was an entertaining and closely-fought contest, with the Negative team wrestling the lead from the Affirmative team who had started out ahead in early audience polling.

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese, said this surprise result demonstrates that bringing your whole self to work can be a risk.

“Not everyone can or should bring their whole self to work. This is especially so if people can’t behave appropriately or respectfully at work, or where workplaces are not inclusive. We need to find ways to allow people to be authentic but still maintain a professional and respectful working environment.

“While many in the audience agreed with the premise that we should strive to have workplaces that enable people to bring their whole selves to work, we just aren’t there yet,” said Lisa.

A survey of the capacity crowd of 460 attendees confirmed that support for inclusion and respect in the workplace was strong. 82% agreed that their workplace is inclusive of everyone and 86% felt like they can really be themselves at work. In addition, 88% said their workplace had programs to promote workplace inclusion and 86% had programs to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment.

Speakers for the Affirmative team argued that it IS a good idea to bring your whole self to work: 

“I’m a big believer in bringing your whole self to work.  When we are authentic we build better relationships, enjoy work more and do a much better job. Nobody wants to follow a leader they don’t know,” said Lorraine Murphy, Chief People Officer, National Australia Bank.

“As a comedian and writer who tells personal stories in theatre, film and TV, I know the value of sharing my authentic self in my work. It’s always better to forge stronger connections by celebrating our differences and being true to ourselves, instead of hiding behind masks,” said Lawrence Leung, comedian, screenwriter and speaker.

“Masking takes a lot of energy. It is demoralising. If I didn't bring my whole self to work I couldn't have influenced others the way I have,” said Karen Mundine, Chief Executive Officer, Reconciliation Australia.

Speakers for the Negative team argued that it is NOT a good idea to bring your whole self to work:

“People aren’t thick. They can figure things out. If I have to bring and explain everything to everyone I'd be too exhausted to actually work. ... Business is dog eat dog, and you don’t get to the top by being a vegetarian!” said Effie Stephanides, cultural icon (AKA Mary Coustas).

“I suspect we’ve all worked with a few people who we wished had brought a little less of themselves into the workplace,” said Alan Kirkland, CEO, CHOICE.

“There are many influential, successful people who live with mental illness. Many of them you wouldn’t even know, because they keep it to themselves. We have to ask ourselves why these people don’t feel comfortable disclosing this information,” said Jack Heath, Chief Executive Officer, SANE Australia.

DCA thanks Major Sponsor NAB as well as Supporting Sponsors Optus and Accenture, and Associate Sponsors Bloomberg and Hall & Wilcox, for making the Debate such a successful event.

Download the media release.

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