Elevating your authentic voice—and that of your company

04 May 2021 · 4 min read
Donnica Hawes-Saunders, PMI’s Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, on the role of employee resource groups in achieving authenticity.
Donnica Hawes Saunders, senior manager, global strategic partnerships and civil engagement

Written by

Donnica Hawes-Saunders, Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, PMI

A group of PMI employees in a meeting.

It’s a word we often hear these days, but do we really understand what “authenticity” means?

For me, a part of leaning into your authenticity is finding ways to elevate your voice. 

In the workplace, this is especially important to help create better working environments that are more productive, inclusive, and profitable.

People often ask me about “finding their voice” and how to speak up even when you’re uncertain. They want to know what it’s like to have a vision and realize that it’s up to you to cast it clearly and passionately so that others can see it, stand with you, and join you in achieving it. 

Here’s my perspective: If you have a seat at a table—a leadership position or a position with an opportunity to shape, influence and impact—there’s a reason for that. 

Someone advocated for you to be there; you’ve likely earned it, and proven you deserve it. It is now your responsibility to speak up when the time comes. Ask yourself, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Elevating diverse voices is about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued. 

This is particularly important for those voices that have historically been under-represented in corporate environments. 

Having a diverse workforce is not just the right thing to do—it’s good for business, too

It’s important that we encourage diverse voices with different perspectives and lived experiences to speak up, so we can foster new ideas and points of view. 
One way we can do this is through employee resource groups (ERGs).
The more you speak up, the more comfortable you’ll feel elevating your authentic voice.
Donnica Hawes-Saunders, Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, PMI

How employee resource groups can help elevate voices

Employee resource groups, often referred to as business resource groups in the U.S., have been supporting the business and culture of corporate America since the 1950s.

At PMI, we have global ERGs, as well as those created in different countries and geographical regions.

I co-chair one of PMI’s ERGs in the company’s affiliate in the U.S., and act as a key point of liaison with one of PMI’s global ERGs. In this way, we can leverage each other’s resources and ideas.

Authenticity means being true to your own values.
Donnica Hawes-Saunders, Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, PMI
ERGs advocate for better, more inclusive workplaces. I championed and created an ERG on race and ethnicity in the U.S. called MOSAIC (Multicultural Organization Supporting An Inclusive Culture). 

Internally, MOSAIC provides leadership and professional development opportunities for its members, as well as a safe space to advocate for corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives specific to the U.S. environment. 

Externally, MOSAIC expands PMI’s relationships and reputation through networking activities and stakeholder engagement. 

As such, local and global ERGs are one tool for elevating authentic, diverse voices within an organization—and at scale.
From a corporate perspective, it’s important to have a culture that is authentic and truly representative.
Donnica Hawes-Saunders, Partnerships Manager for Global Transformation Communications, PMI

Authenticity means being true to your own values, your own spirit, and your own personality—regardless of the pressure you’re under to act otherwise.

It’s about being honest with yourself and with others, and taking responsibility. As a result, your values, ideals, and actions will naturally align. You will be—and will come across as—genuine.

Authenticity = Being upfront about who you really are

Authenticity is important in business for a variety of reasons. 

From a corporate perspective—and we see this more and more—people want companies to be upfront about who they are and what they represent. 

Consumers want to feel they are buying from a company whose values align with their own. 

Just as we crave authentic relationships with friends and family, people also crave authenticity from the companies they work for and the brands they support.
One simple action that can build authenticity in a company is to join an employee resource group and become an active participant. 

And if one doesn’t exist, create one—you and your company will be the better for it. Invest time and expertise in others.

None of us got to where we are on our own. Together, we will always be better.

Top photo posed by models. © Getty Images