People Want to Bring Their Full Selves to the Future of Work

Humans have always had a need to feel seen, heard, and belong

The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader.  This theme focuses on the inclusion factor for the future of work.

Being a full human at work

We are learning more about each other than we ever have.  My interviews cited countless examples of people bringing their full selves to a virtual work environment.  From video call appearances of pets and children to learning more about each other’s family.  One leader shared that she did not even know her co-worker was married until the pandemic.  It is funny how when we sat next to each other, sharing a common work space, we knew each other less than we do now.

People care about each other during times of massive change.  One positive many cited in the research was a genuine response to the question, “how are you?”  Many noticed that people actually paused to listen intently to the response.  People actually wanted to know.  Genuinely.  

Why weren’t we doing this before?

Inclusive parenting

This pandemic has underscored the value of embracing who you are authentically, in and outside of work.  For many people, being a caregiver is a big part of their identity, especially for women.

Caregivers estimate their workload has increased by as much as 40% as a result of having children home from school and with limited access to external childcare or caregivers. The brunt of the caregiving has fallen on women.  LeanIn cites that “31% of women with full-time jobs and families say they have more to do than they can possibly handle vs.only 13% of working men.”  For dual career couples, this means inclusive parenting is paramount now more than ever.  

The book Parents Who Lead by Stew Friedman and Alyssa Westring outlines key strategies to effectively co-parent inclusively.  One of their key recommendations is that partners are on the same page together across gender roles.  By aligning on common values, goals, and techniques to parent together, families can pivot away from traditional non-inclusive parenting roles when men were providers and women were caregivers.  

In fact, as long as we continue to see women as caregivers and men as providers, we will continue to experience gender inequality.  The Flip It to Test It TEDx Talk by Kristen Pressner helps people understand the impact of gender bias and the systems in which keep women with access to lower pay, promotions, and leadership roles. 

Interview With Melinda Gates: How Revolutionizing Our Caretaking System Is ‘The Key To Reopening The Economy’ further compounds the gender issue with women overrepresented as essential workers at the same time they are being overtasked as caregivers.  We rarely ask men “how does he do it all?” and are constantly asking women this question, especially the further up in an organization she moves.

What if organizations embraced caregiving roles across genders and prioritized the role of being a caregiver before being an employee?

The inclusion factor

Kate Isler, co-founder and Executive Director of Be Bold Now believes the future of work will be more inclusive.  She says, “Organizations have talked about caring about diversity and inclusion for a long time.  This is a chance to hit the reset button.  That means reflecting on your desired audience.  When you have a population that is 50/50 men and women, how can you better represent that in leadership?”  She also foresees a huge push for independence and less oversight and hierarchy in business.  People need to be trusted to get their work done as they see fit and measure outcomes over hours worked.

In my research for my book Lead Like an Ally, I found 12 key attributes of inclusive leaders.  They range from self-awareness to empathy, candor, vulnerability, emotional intelligence and more.  Leaders need to meet their teams where they are at with inclusive leadership skills to drive more inclusion. 

Toolkit to take action

Let this be a positive pause to pivot forward as a leader.  Get your team together virtually or live and be curious to learn from them.  Tell them you want to get better as a team.  Invite them to take my free 20 question Diversity and Inclusion Engagement assessment and discuss the results as a team, asking:

  • STRENGTHS:  What are our strengths?
  • OPPORTUNITIES:  What are our opportunities to improve?
  • PRIORITIES:  What areas do you want to prioritize on inclusion?

The future of work will not be the same.  There is no return to normal.  The future of work is inclusive.

This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success.  How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?

If you liked this article, good news.  I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work.  You can find time to connect with me  1:1 to discuss ideas here.

We need our allies more than ever.  We will get through this together.  Because we are stronger together.

Message me with your thoughts at  I personally respond to every email I receive.