As the same-sex marriage survey draws to a close in Australia, there has been an uncommon blurring of the line between personal and professional.
Numerous companies have broken with the traditional reluctance to take sides on social and political issues and openly supported the "yes" campaign. These include Airbnb, Amazon, ASX, Atlassian, Bonds, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Finder, Foxtel, Kmart, McDonald's, NRL, Origin, Qantas, Salesforce, Seek, Twitter, Visa, and Xero.
In addition, a number of senior executives have shared their personal stories and experiences on the same-sex marriage issue. One of the strong common themes to emerge is the recognition that the ability to be your authentic self at work allows you to perform better and be more successful.
For example, early in her career Skipp Williamson felt that she did not quite fit in as a gay woman in management consulting. This was the catalyst to start her own now hugely successful firm, Partners in Performance.
Annette Kimmitt, global growth markets leader and Asia-Pacific accounts leader at EY found that her professional confidence and work performance blossomed as she became comfortable integrating her personal and professional personas. Her recent blog post about the impact of marriage equality on her family has gone viral.
Romilly Madew, chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia and Dr. Rory Nathan, Associate Professor of hydrology and water resources at University of Melbourne, have both recently articulated the benefits for organisations in creating workplaces that are inclusive and accepting of diversity.
From a personal finance perspective, the ability to share who you really are at work not only helps you earn more, but also to spend less, in the following ways.
When you are relaxed and being yourself, others can feel it. It helps clients, co-workers and superiors feel that they can trust you, when they get the sense that you are genuine and at ease. Trust is an essential ingredient for successful relationships and is the hallmark of many successful managers and sales people. Being authentic at work accelerates the development of trust and greater responsibility, reward and recognition often follow.
A Deloitte study found that nearly half of all workers have felt a need to "cover" or hide aspects of themselves at work. Only 45 per cent of white men have felt this way, while two out of three women have experienced this need and more than four out of five LGBT workers.
It requires much more energy to maintain a created persona than to be yourself. Words and actions at work that do not align with your true thoughts and feelings create cognitive dissonance, that is uncomfortable and tiring. Being authentic releases mental and emotional energy to be devoted to your work and undoubtedly enhances performance.
More interesting work
If people in your workplace genuinely understand what motivates you, you are more likely to find yourself working on projects and assignments that really interest and excite you. We all perform better when we are working on something we find truly engaging.
Enhancing team performance
Studies have shown that diverse teams outperform financially. McKinsey research suggests that companies with ethnically diverse teams outperform their peers by up to 35 per cent. This financial performance is the result of superior problem solving, creativity and innovation from diverse groups. Being authentic enables you to contribute more effectively to the team for everyone's benefit.
If you are happy and accepted for who you really are, you are much less likely to use money to impress people or overspend to compensate for being miserable at work.
Spending to maintain an idealised lifestyle or to project an image can be a vicious circle. The more you spend trying to sustain the illusion, the more likely you are to be trapped in a job you don't enjoy or working longer hours than you would like.
Regardless of your personal views on marriage equality, it's clear that being your true self, and allowing others to do the same, has both social and financial benefits.