Shifting Identities in the Workplace
Arin N. Reeves
Race. Ethnicity. Gender. Sexual Orientation. Physical Ability/Disability. Mental Ability/Disability. Religion. Marital Status. Socioeconomic Status. Native Language. Parental Status. Sibling Status. Country of Origin. College Alma Mater. Hometown. Profession.
As you read the list were there particular identity characteristics that you connected with more than others? Reread the list and select the three that you feel are the most important characteristics to you when you are with your professional colleagues and acquaintances. Are these the same three characteristics that you would select if you were thinking about your identity when you are with your family and friends?
Which three characteristics do you want people to focus on when describing you? When we run this exercise in workshops, most people find that at least one, and most often two, of the characteristics shift as the context shifts. With enough time, most people in our workshops can identify several contexts in their lives that have no overlapping identity characteristics at all.