I'll be speaking JiveWorld16 tomorrow - "Getting Executives Engaged". It's a big topic and there are many angles (I'll of course share some of those) - but key in all of this is authenticity - showing up with everything we've got, everything that makes us "us", everything that makes as human.

 

Life.pngI work at Swiss Re, a company that proudly proclaims and encourages Diversity & Inclusion. The D&I vision statement says it all. It empowers employees to "be who you are" and states that "diversity of thought is at the core of our values". Most bigger companies have long discovered D&I and most have D&I leaders and champions to promote and foster everything that goes with it. But, as important as leadership commitment is, it is nothing but potential until we act on it. It is there to show employees the path and it is there to give the sense of empowerment to actually start walking that path.

 

Stop working, start living.

 

This is the message I live and spread at all times across the hierarchies. I refuse to have a work/life balance - I have a life. I refuse to see it as two separate things that complement each other. It is so much easier, so much more effective, to simply be me to the best of my abilities at all times. Whether that's me within the walls of a firm, or whether that's me spending time with loved ones - or me JiveWorld16 it doesn't matter. It's just me, all of me, 100%. Every single one of us is more than just a professional with a particular expertise. We're also partners, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, siblings, students and much more. We all have passions and hobbies. And we all have thoughts, ideas and opinions that are as unique as we are.

 

Yet oftentimes you'll see nothing but the expert sitting across from you. No company wants less than 100% from their employees, right? But that's exactly what many companies get because, either implicitly or explicitly, their message is this: "Now you're working and when you're done you can start living again." Having diversity without living it is meaningless. What's the point of having ten diverse people sitting in a meeting if no one brings anything fresh, unique, different to the table? What's the point if all think the same, act the same, nod the same? Today, such conformity is the death of a company.

 

"Fitting in is a short-term strategy to get you nowhere - standing out is a long-term strategy that takes guts and produces results. (Seth Godin)"

 

Over the past years I've seen countless examples where colleagues went beyond their expertise, where they shared something that made a difference for the individual, for the team, sometimes for the whole company. Companies absolutely do need everything their employees have to offer - and that's the 100%. They need their employees' uniqueness to succeed into the future. If Diversity isn't lived, if Diversity of Thought isn't encouraged and empowered, the company will find itself in the dust of the competition before long. The successful companies of the future encourage and empower. Their leaders live the 100% by example. Their employees bring their 100% every day, they speak their minds, they challenge, 100% human, 100% alive. All it takes it 100% for companies to succeed and for employees to live rich, fulfilling lives. Sounds like a lot. And it is. And it isn't. It's just life. It's that simple. We just have to bring it. Allow me to repeat:

 

Stop working. Start living.