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Are you familiar with the powerful intersection between impostor syndrome and diversity and inclusion? These two critical topics have recently captured the spotlight, illuminating the challenges individuals face in finding their rightful place to thrive at work or in academic settings.
Diversity and inclusion are more than catchphrases in today's environment. They are critical for creating a culture of belonging, innovation, and high performance.
However, many organizations struggle to achieve their diversity and inclusion goals, partly because of a hidden enemy: impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome or impostor phenomenon, that persistent feeling of inadequacy despite evidence of competence and success, is no respecter of a person. It affects 70% of people from all walks of life, from students to accomplished CEOs. However, its impact can be amplified for those in underrepresented groups.
Due to societal stereotypes regarding competence associated with gender, race, age, language, socioeconomic status, and disability, underrepresented individuals often face additional pressures, biases, and microaggressions. The constant pressure to prove oneself in the face of societal expectations and negative stereotypes can intensify impostor feelings hindering personal and professional growth.
When individuals feel like impostors, they may hesitate to speak up, take on leadership roles, or seize more challenging opportunities, fearing being exposed as a fraud. This limits their personal growth and potential and obstructs the progress of organizations striving to create innovative, inclusive, and high-performing cultures.
It can result in lower productivity, creativity, engagement, retention, diversity,
and growth for organizations.
However, while we must strive to wipe out allsystemic discrimination, we must also understand impostor syndrome will persist when we achieve this goal unless we address its root cause: an unrealistic expectationof what it means to be competent, an unhealthy reaction to failure, feedback, and mistakes, and confusing competence with confidence.
The convergence of impostor syndrome and diversity and inclusion requires proactive measures to cultivate inclusive environments that support individuals in combating impostor syndrome.
To achieve this, here are three actionable strategies organizations can implement:
1. Cultivate a culture of belonging: a sense of belonging fosters confidence. Ensure your organization's policies, practices, and behaviors are inclusive and welcoming to people from diverse backgrounds. Celebrate the power of different perspectives and champion diversity in all its forms.
2. Invest in training and leadership development: Offer workshops and training programs that address impostor syndrome's impact on the diverse talent and the source of their impostor feelings and equip employees with specific strategies to overcome those feelings according to their type of impostor. Dr Valerie Young, a leading global expert on impostor syndrome, has identified five types of impostors.
Empower all employees and leaders with practical, proven tools and strategies to be aware of their unconscious biases, and lead inclusively.
3. Nurture a growth mindset culture where failure is normalized: Failure is integral to the journey, driving learning, growth, and resilience. Leaders lead by example in a growth mindset culture, sharing their failures and showcasing their growth. Feedback focuses on development and improvement rather than judgment.
Organizations can create a more equitable and empowering workplace by actively addressing the intersection of impostor syndrome and diversity and inclusion. When individuals feel seen, valued, and supported with a healthy view of what being competent means, they are more likely to thrive and contribute to their fullest potential, and organizations are more likely to outperform their business goals.
I published this article first on my LinkedIn page.
If you are looking for the best way to stamp out impostor syndrome in your organization to unleash the full potential of your teams, feel free to reach out to me to discover our proven solution, which is backed by 40 years of research and has been delivered to 500,000 people worldwide. I am a founding licensed associate of the Impostor Syndrome Institute, the world's #1 resource on impostor syndrome.