Why Authentic Workplaces Are More Ethical

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By Maryam Kouchaki | June 19, 2019 | Via Harvard Business Review | Career Development

People want to feel authentic at work. If an employee or candidate cares about the environment or access to education or being a caring parent, for example, they don’t want their professional responsibilities to interfere with these values or force them to compromise on them. They want to feel like they can express who they are fully at work, without being judged negatively or missing out on development and advancement opportunities; that’s the idea of enabling people to bring their “whole selves” to work.

This general concept has gained momentum of late because of the large number of Millennials in the workforce. In fact, this population segment now represents the greatest proportion of the U.S. workforce of any generation: as of 2017, a full 35% of U.S. employees was Millennials, just ahead of Generation Xers (about 33%) and well ahead of Baby Boomers (25%). And Millennials are known for their strong focus on consuming and working for brands with values that match their own.

But aligning the values your company represents with those of the employees within it is also important for a very specific reason: it helps prevent ethical lapses. My recent research with Mahdi Ebrahimi and Vanessa Patrick suggests that enabling people to bring their whole selves to work endows them with a greater sense of authenticity that ultimately leads to more ethical behavior, reducing business risk.

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