The art of being authentic | Rebecca Jane column

This time last year, one of our RJ8 therapists sat me down and said ‘what are the company values’.

By Rebecca Jane
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 3:45 pm

I rolled my eyes and passed it off as being more ‘well-being mumbo jumbo’ that seems to be infiltrating our industry these days.

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He told me to ‘hear him out’ and just think about why values are important.

Rebecca Jane

When we go through times of stress and pressure, the drivers at the core of our soul take over. We behave and take action in ways that we may ordinarily not do, if our stress drivers weren’t kicking in.

If we don’t define ‘who we are’ right now, we won’t be able to anchor ourselves back to those values, when we’re under pressure.

We need to define our values, what we stand for and who we are, right now. That way, when the pressure and stress become too much, we can ask ourselves if we’re still aligning our values.

Are we being true to ourselves, our company and what we stand for? Or are we panicking, reacting from our emotions and doing whatever it takes to survive.

I humoured him. What he said made sense. At that point in time, we were evolving the company I started three years previously and we were navigating our corporate ship away from the other co-founder.

We may be a business, but we had an identity and personality that was changing. It was time to ‘take stock’ and address who we are and who we want to be. It may have been a corporate conversation, but it applies to humans too.

Passionate and committed were values we always had, but there’s one value that has been at the forefront of everything we have done for the last year. Authentic.

We stay true to who we are. We don’t sugar coat and gloss over harsh truth, we address it, with respect, kindness and humour. As a human, I don’t always get that part right, but as a business, we really do!

Over the last year, and even the last week, I have witnessed many businesses and specifically charities operate from a place of inauthenticity. They make their employees be silent on socials, they don’t have public facing CEOs, and at best, they make employees hide their personality. A complete inauthentic base to run any charity, or business, in my opinion. In a modern corporate world, people don’t buy or invest in names, they buy and invest in people. Which is one of the reasons you see Aldi, tweeting to high heaven, to a point where you feel you know them.

The people behind our business and our charity make us and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I support our staff, wholeheartedly, so long as they aren’t doing anything illegal! Conversation makes the world go round, as do opinions. I want to hear them, discuss them and grow together learning from them. I don’t want our people to shy away from living their true and authentic lives. I want them to glow! We see almost every charity and company in existence harping on about ‘inclusivity’, waiving their virtue flags. Is it inclusive when a charity or business try to silence the opinions and personality of the people at their core?

Over the last week. I’ve encountered a well known local charity silencing people involved with them. Distancing themselves because they don’t share the same views as their own, and frankly, it broke my heart. The hypocrisy is immense. When I see their charity statements claiming they are ‘inclusive’, supporting everyone… but behind the scenes, their chief executive is severing ties with anyone who doesn’t express her own beliefs. How far should that stance go? What if she doesn’t like the colour blue, what if neon pink is a colour she finds offensive and decides to ban everyone from her organisation with neon pink hair?

Elitist attitudes are hopefully a thing of the past, but in my working life, I see the under current of fear. People are afraid to be their authentic selves, because whilst most claim to be inclusive, it’s only ‘inclusive’ if you share the same thoughts, values and beliefs. Maybe it’s time some charities, businesses and people sit back, put the virtue flag down and ask themselves, ‘are we REALLY inclusive?!’.

My advice to anyone who finds themselves involved with these organisations, charities and businesses? Run. Be authentic. Stay true to yourself, you’ll find your tribe and if you feel judged and segregated - there’s a problem with them, not you.

To those who remain authentic, true and speak even when their voice shakes – don’t let anyone hold you back. Keep being your wonderful, glowing, human self!