Ep 132. Christie Smith and Kenji Yoshino: Covering Your Identity at Work
“If I had felt comfortable bringing my whole self to work, would I have had more energy to have deeper human connection and engage in greater productivity?”
Christie Smith, Ph.D., is Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Apple. Previously she was Managing Principal for Deloitte Consulting’s West Division where she was also the most senior diversity partner leading the Deloitte University Leadership Centers for Inclusion and Community Impact. She has decades of experience building and leading high performing teams and she’s a known expert in the field of Human Resources and Inclusion. Kenji Yoshino, a Rhodes Scholar, is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law and the Director of the Center for Diversity Inclusion and Belonging. He was formerly the Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He’s written several groundbreaking books, including Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights.
This episode begins with Stew and Christie discussing some common struggles experienced by LGBT individuals in the workplace. Christie explains how she dealt with these issues in the beginning of her career by hiding who she was. Kenji then joins the conversation to talk about the research on covering -- disguising aspects of one’s true identity in order to fit in at work -- and how this is not only applicable to the LGBT community. He describes how he had to cover in his early career experience as a Yale law professor and brings up surprising examples of others who feel compelled to cover at work, including veterans and people suffering from various illnesses. He provides a helpful framework for understanding the different types of covering people use at work in their efforts to protect themselves from discriminatory attitudes and actions. Together, Christie and Kenji explore the emotional cost of not being able to be your authentic self at work and what can be done to break through.