Why employees who are honest about their identity will succeed

The authors analyze the effect revelations things like sexual identity, pregnancy and mental disability has on how coworkers operate together.

‘Tell me about yourself’ can be a tough interview question.

An upcoming study to be published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, examined 65 previously conducted reports regarding the relationship stigmatized identities share with workplace functionality.  The authors analyze the effect revelations of things like sexual identity, pregnancy, and mental disability has on how coworkers operate together.

Eden King is the associate professor at Rice University that coauthored the study, wherein he discovered that those that are forthcoming about their non-visible stigmas are generally happier and tend to work more efficiently than those that choose not to disclose. According to the study, these individuals were found to express less job anxiety, decreased role ambiguity, emboldened commitment to their position in addition to job satisfaction. Apparently, these psychological boosts extend behind the office. Respondents reported feeling less stressed and more satisfied with their personal lives as. a direct result of being more open in their professional ones.


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Interestingly enough these results did not similarly apply to people with visible stigmas, like race or physical deformities. Dr. King states:

“Identities that are immediately observable operate differently than those that are concealable. The same kinds of difficult decisions about whether or not to disclose the identity — not to mention the questions of to whom, how, when and where to disclose those identities — are probably less central to their psychological experiences.”

King asserts that the mere process of sharing intimate and venerable information has a greater impact when said information is not ostensible. The decision to share appears to play a pretty important role.

Mental illness and productivity

The research on the subject is pretty scarce, though most accounts, both personal and broad, corroborate King’s findings. Joseph Raunch detailed the benefits effect revealing his battle with mental illness and revealing to his boss back in 2015 with a piece published in Huffington Post. It made him a better employee and the weight of concealing such a major part of himself was a toxic tax on his productivity.

Considering the $100 million production loss attributed to mental health related-induced absenteeism that plagues companies, ensuring employees feel comfortable should be a fiscal priority.

The Human Rights Campaign, suggests being open at work as a progressive measure to being less stressed at work, while also offering helpful tips to confront the surely daunting task.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.