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Colourfull peace graffiti on wall

Although I have written about authenticity before, when reflecting back on the events of the past few years recently, I realized that the authenticity I referred to in my writings years ago really should’ve been called “Authenticity Lite”.

By “Authenticity Lite” I mean that: Over time more and more businesses continue to conduct themselves in a way that is honest and authentic in terms of being transparent in their interactions, as well as not “blowing smoke up their client’s you-know-whats” or purposefully overpromising, while underperforming. Likewise, in prior years, employees focused on things like: wanting to work for companies who understood that there is more to life than work, valuing flexibility when it comes to work/life balance, the ability to bring dogs to work, and the opportunity to work with teammates and leaders who are honest and humble.

Fast forward to 2021: Now we have an entirely updated and intense cast of issues that weigh on authenticity in much more piercing and important ways. It is painfully clear that there is more to an authentic workplace than having a foosball table and being pet friendly.

  • We are in a moment where Covid-19 lock downs have brought up tough issues related to those who can work from home versus those who cannot – the “front-line workers” as they have come to be known.
  • There are deeply rooted versions of racism that go way back with new demands for change via the Black Lives Matter movement and most recently, attacks on Asian-Americans who find themselves as targets due to the unconscionable association of a virus with their ethnicity.
  • Who can forget the outcome of this year’s presidential election? It was riddled with what seemed to be issue after issue of endless controversy and unfairness. The rightness or wrongness of these issues depended on your perspective in some cases. While other issues were clearly just plain ugly and wrong.
  • Finally, we can’t ignore the topic of our environment and climate change, an ever seemingly controversial topic associated with the extinction of plants and animals, massive wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and most recently the freezing of Texas.

We have a lot to tackle as a society these days. Companies and brands must navigate this as well. While some issues are a matter of opinion and perspective, there are others where organizations just need to be on the right side of history while also being sensitive to and doing the right thing for their employees and clients.

Demonstrating authenticity these days is more than a slogan – more than just “saying what you mean and doing what you say”. People expect more. Today it seems that Authenticity 2.0 might include aspects such as fairness, supporting individual purpose, having a company purpose beyond just profits, integrity, transparency, true level playing fields as opposed to privilege, supporting the growth of people professionally and personally, and so much more. If we are going to change for the better, it takes us all individually and it takes us all as groups to work together. These initiatives need to include companies and institutions of all stripes and purposes for change to happen.

I am not qualified to tell others how we get to a better place, but I do want to have this kind of dialogue with our team, clients, and with family and friends. As I begin to look at having this deeper conversation with those I interact with, perhaps some possible starting points for discussion are:

With Team Members:
What is on your mind regarding Authenticity 2.0? How are current issues affecting you? What steps are you taking to affect change? Are there steps we can take as a company to get started on spreading positive change within and outside of the organization How do they perceive the company in its approach to differing roles within the organization? What longer-term goals could the company have toward fairness across different types of team member roles? How do “frontline” team positions compare with those that are more office-related and able to work from home during these past several months?

With Company Leadership:
How far is the organization prepared to go to push past bigotry and stand for equality, not as a brand message but as an actual truth to stand behind no matter what?

With Clients & Partners:
What does Authenticity 2.0 mean at your organization? How does it relate to your team? How will your updated view of authenticity make a difference in how all team members feel they are valued? How will it improve their lives? Might it change the approach you take with your brand and marketing? How might it make the world a better place locally, statewide, nationally, and even globally? What resources and time will be devoted to making that happen?

These topics have been on my mind for a while now, but we are just starting to delve into them here at Identity Works. I’m keenly aware that action and deeds are what get you to better places, (We all know the proverbial saying about the road to Hell being paved with good intensions…). When I do take the next step here, those actions and deeds need to start with open dialogue.

Are you and/or your company thinking about this broad area of intertwined topics? Have you already had some dialogue and taken steps toward real action? If so, I’d love to hear from you on what those dialogs have been, what steps you’ve taken, and how it has affected your organization.

May we all grow over the coming months and years, learning to show more empathy and understanding to those around us. As this growth happens, so will the change we want to see.

I normally try to tie the song for each blog post directly to the post’s topic. This time, however, I primarily wanted to share an artist I stumbled upon recently that I REALLY like: Curtis Harding. The song in the video is acoustic and relates to atonement, but be sure to check out his electric catalog of music if you enjoy this song. In my opinion, there’s nothing more authentic than a Rhythm & Blues song.