Don’t Bring Your Whole Self to Work: Bring Your Best Whole Work Self

As I look back on my twenty-five-year career in corporate America, I am struck by and struggle with the Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) and employee engagement mantra to “bring your whole self to work.” That might surprise you if you know me: I started my career working on D&I, and have worked on D&I inside and outside the workplace ever since. Some may even consider me a champion of D&I. But it is my passion for D&I that brings me to the conclusion that it is time to break the “bring your whole self to work” myth.

The idea behind this mantra is simple: if employees bring their whole selves to work, they will feel better about the workplace, and by extension be happier and more productive employees (and human beings). That sounds good on paper. The problem is this: you shouldn’t bring your whole self to work if that means behaving badly. Or said differently, you should bring your best whole work self to work, not your “whole self.”
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From the Netherlands to Washington, D.C. -An NAWRB Intern’s Journey-

In 2016, Marissa de Swart, a young woman from the Netherlands, traveled to the United States to study at Chapman University in sunny Orange, California. Chapman is a distinguished private, non-profit university, and one of only 75 colleges to offer a Peace Studies program. She took two courses in Peace Studies during her time studying abroad, as well as noteworthy courses in leadership and mediation.

Students enrolled in the Peace Studies program address the underlying causes of present international conflict and seek thorough nonviolent solutions. “Peace is not simply the absence of war and the end of conflict,” states the program’s brochure. “Lasting, sustainable peace involves the pursuit of human rights, sustainable development, and social justice.”

This sentiment hearkens to the evocative words Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in a cell at Birmingham City Jail in 1963: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Women’s economic opportunity and growth is one human rights issue that requires attention in order to achieve gender equality, a necessary component of world peace. NAWRB is on the front lines of this issue—driving collaboration in the housing ecosystem for gender parity and women’s economic growth, and providing women with resources to secure their financial independence.

Wanting to get involved in the women’s movement, and apply the skills she learned in the classroom to the workforce, Marissa interned at NAWRB. She was pivotal in bridging our connections with the Netherland’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and she continued this intermediary role when she returned home. Shortly after her internship, she secured an opportunity to work at the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C., where she currently resides.

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