How Best Companies Ensure People Can Bring Their Whole Selves to Work

 How Best Companies Ensure People Can Bring Their Whole Selves to Work

Best Workplaces DEIB LGBTQ+

Great Workplaces shed light on what it means to bring your whole self to work.

In 2011, Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at EY, made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. As a senior executive, she was no stranger to media attention but this article was different.

A month earlier, EYs inclusiveness director had invited her to give the closing remarks in a video the company was making to support the "It Gets Better" campaign by The Trevor Project, the national suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth.

Her team prepared a speech for her and as she reviewed the script on the airplane she was confronted by the fact that the words were written from the perspective of a straight executive.

She thought to herself, "that's just not what I would say if I was being honest." So she wrote her own script for the video, not only acknowledging that she was gay, but passing on the message to LGBTQ teenagers that:

"[LGBTQ teenagers] needed to feel valuable because of their difference, not in spite of it."

Beth's decision to come out changed the course of her life forever. As the most senior female business executive in the world, she realized that she had a duty to use her platform to drive diversity in the workplace.

Beth told this story in her talk at the 2017 Great Place To Work For All Summit. Beth said:

"I can tell you that at age 52, in that one act of coming out, I made more of a difference for so many people around the world than anything else I've ever done in my career or my life."

Out for almost a decade, Brooke-Marciniak now uses her platform to encourage companies to embrace diversity and be agents of change.

She hopes that more multi-national companies, like EY, can create safe places for dialogue and a celebration of differences, even in countries that might not respect the cultural and political freedom we have.

Her message is that differences matter, and everyone is different. Despite her early career success, Beth realized after coming out that she wasn't truly successful until she publicly acknowledged who she really was. Now, by bringing her whole self to work, she can bring her full perspective to the table professionally.

Want to know how you can create an environment where your people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work? Get inspiration from best people practices of 2019 Best Companies:

1. Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Bright Horizons believes that bringing your whole self to work isn't a corporate program. Rather, the company believes that it's a mindset that permeates the culture. It happens because trust exists at every level of the organization.

At the Great Place To Work For All Summit a few years ago, CHRO Danroy T. Henry made the distinction between "having employees who do the work" and "having people who do the work." He said:

“employees only bring a piece of themselves to work, people bring their whole selves to work.”

So the company surveyed their people and asked how they were doing, not just in their work, but in their lives. When the results showed that people were having issues managing their finances, they put programs in place to help, knowing that issues at home would affect their resilience and ability to be present at work. Financial training programs helped employees improve at home, which made them more focused on work

2. CarMax

CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, encourages employees to celebrate their cultural diversity and share their backgrounds with their co-workers, knowing that when employees share their whole selves with each other, they collaborate better and are happier in the workplace.

One particularly popular diversity event is the food-focused “A Taste of Diversity” program, where associates celebrate their backgrounds through food. Around the country, associates contribute their favorite recipes and explain what those recipes mean to them.

Associates share memories and dishes while gaining insight into their colleagues’ cultural histories. They gather their stories and recipes in the CarMax “Taste of Diversity Cookbook,” which is always a big hit: 4,000 associates ordered a copy of this free book in the event’s first year.

3. Capital One Financial Corporation  

When you don't feel comfortable in your own skin, you can't do your best work on the job. Capital One Financial Corporation, and many other companies on the 100 Best list, are making it possible for employees to bring their true selves to work by covering gender reassignment surgery at the same level as other surgeries.

Given the high cost of the surgery and drugs required, this practice allows employees to become the people they want to be and, as a result, bring their whole self to work every day.

Every year, more companies like EY are adopting our For All methodology - creating a consistently high-trust workplace experience for everyone, no matter who they are, or what they do for the organization. In other words, creating a culture where people don’t feel like they must put on a mask when they show up at work.

If you want to create a workplace that is For All, start analyzing your workplace with our employee experience platform today.


Claire Hastwell