“Some people like you, some people don’t. In the end you just have to be yourself.” – Andres Iniesta .The above quotation aptly captured the findings of the research which concluded that hiding your true self at work may damage your career, self-esteem and job satisfaction.
The study author Professor Manuela Barreto from the University of Exeter, said: ‘People may choose to conceal stigmatised identities because they want to be accepted, but in fact doing so reduces feelings of belonging.
He further explained that when someone conceals his/her true identity, his/her social interactions suffer – and this has an impact not just on the individual but also on the organisation they work for.
“What we need are environments where people don’t need to hide – inclusive environments where people don’t have to make a choice between being liked and being authentic”, Barreto stated.
To arrive at their findings, the study team from the University of Exeter analysed ‘stigmatised characteristics’, including being gay, bisexual or transgender, having a history of poverty, or suffering from a physical or mental illness.
The study reported on DailyMailOnline noted that in one study, participants were asked to remember an incident when they either concealed or revealed a stigmatised characteristic about themselves.
While another study presented participants with fictional scenarios that involved concealing or revealing their stigmatised identity.
In both studies, participants were asked how they would feel after concealing or revealing the characteristic.
The results indicated that concealing stigmatised characteristics from colleagues reduces people’s self-esteem, job satisfaction and work commitment, which may damage their career.
Professor Barreto said: ‘People may choose to conceal stigmatised identities because they want to be accepted, but in fact doing so reduces feelings of belonging.
‘Our findings suggest that openness about one’s identity is often beneficial for stigmatised individuals, the stigmatised group and their workplace.’
The import of the study is for people to know that it is better for them to be known for whom they are than feigning to be a different person altogether.