Stepping out from behind the corporate curtain

I’m in my early 20s and slowly learning the DOs and DON’Ts of daily corporate life.

As I am trying to learn as much as possible, I have found myself caught in a bit of a trap. I’m watching each step I take so carefully, with a fixed gaze on my feet, I have forgotten to look up and look in the mirror. I sometimes work to reflect this corporate image I have in my mind, rather than the very best version of myself. I realized this after attending the recent Celanese Women’s Conference.

Lori Johnston, Celanese senior vice president of human resources, opened the conference with the importance of diversity and inclusion in the work place. A slide popped up on the screen with statistics of the diversity at Celanese. While it was interesting, I began slipping into a yawn until she said, “Though, numbers aren’t everything. What’s important is how we feel. Do we feel like Celanese is inclusive? Do you feel like you belong?” Wait, are we talking about feelings at work?

Yolanda Conyers, vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer at Lenovo, shared stories of her personal life, as well as tips for career and company growth. She spoke so candidly about work- life balance and what it takes to effectively merge different cultures at work. Her talk-show-like conversation with Lori was refreshing as she and Lori spoke openly of their challenges in and outside of the workplace. When speaking on diversity, Yolanda said, “It’s beyond race and gender, it involves diverse skills, languages, and experiences, too.”

As I was digesting the stories shared from Yolanda and Lori, I felt a little bit of myself waking up. I began remembering the value I have to offer simply by being myself and remaining genuine in my work. And the value I can bring to the table does not only involve my actual work, but the authenticity in my daily conversations and meetings. We spend the majority of our lives in the workplace; it’s important that we let our guard down from time to time and be honest about how we feel. We are hired partly on the basis of our diverse experiences and thoughts, and we should not be afraid to let this diversity surface in our daily interaction with our co-workers.

What do you think is most important at work? What do you value most outside of work? What do you think sets you apart from others? Set your mind on these things and bring them with you as you work. Yes, a company should ensure a positive, inclusive environment. However, we have to respond with authenticity. Don’t be afraid to bring your differing perspectives, work experiences, and personality to the conversation and be open to others doing the same. Not only will you feel more freedom in your daily activities, but you will be prouder of your contributions at the end of the day.

Adding to my list…

I’m excited to apply these to my daily work, and I have a lot to learn. So, help me out! What do you do to create an environment of inclusion?

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About the author


Caitlin McCoy is a Communications Specialist at Celanese. Outside of work, she enjoys being outdoors, writing, and spending time with family and friends.

There are 8 comments. Add yours.

  1. Dana Smith says:

    Caitlin – Really enjoyed reading your blog! I totally agree with you – sometimes we get so caught up in saying the “right” things in meetings that we forget to be ourselves and we resist sharing how we really feel. Some of the best ideas come from meetings where people are free to speak openly and honestly.

    • Caitlin McCoy says:

      Very true, Dana. Focusing too much on what’s expected can keep you from sharing innovative, creative ideas that only you can contribute. Thanks for reading!

  2. Jenna Coppens says:

    Your article is so insightful, relateable, and beautifully written! I am simply tickled to spread it all over the twitters and the book of the face!

  3. Margie Dolch says:

    Caitlin, I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your experiences at the Women’s conference. What an encouraging afternoon packed with wisdom anyone could relate to. To answer your question, I create an inclusive environment by:
    -bringing/welcoming new ways to communicate
    -involving those around me to learn from and engage with me
    -listening more to understand where others are coming from

  4. gretchen says:

    Caitlin, thanks for your inspiring message. One of the best ways I know of to engage ourselves and others is to ask good questions.

    • Caitlin McCoy says:

      Great advice, Gretchen. I’m learning that in order to ask good questions, I have to let my guard down. Thanks for reading!

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