Vaya Insights
Bringing Your True Self to Work: A Conversation with Anthony Papini

By Jeremy Watson, Ph.D., LMFT 
Managing Consultant and Certified Executive Coach, Vaya Group

In a revealing conversation, Anthony Papini, head of DEI at ActiveCampaign, shares his profound insights on authenticity and inclusion in the workplace. With more than two decades in DEI and leadership roles, Anthony integrates his vast experiences to champion inclusive practices.

Jeremy: Can you share how authenticity in the workplace has evolved recently?

Anthony: “Authenticity used to mean keeping your personal life out of the workplace. Now, it’s about bringing your whole self to work, ensuring you can be professional without hiding who you are. For instance, the new reality where pets and personal life intersect with professional settings, like my dog appearing during our call, shows just how much we’ve integrated our true selves into our work environments.”

Jeremy: What does being authentic at work mean to you?

Anthony: “For me, it’s about showing up without fear that personal aspects like my sexual orientation or disability will affect my career. It’s about being able to discuss my husband or explain my mobility issues without concern for negative repercussions.”

Jeremy: What are the main challenges to achieving authenticity in the workplace?

Anthony: “The biggest hurdles are lack of trust, psychological safety, and a gap between stated corporate values and actual behaviors. Leaders need to ensure that beautiful inclusion statements are more than just words—they must be backed by real action and accountability.”

Jeremy: How can leaders foster an authentic workplace culture?

Anthony: “Leaders should be open about their own experiences and actively participate in allyship. By sharing personal stories and supporting diverse identities, they set a standard of openness and acceptance that encourages others to do the same.”

Jeremy: What role does data play in promoting workplace authenticity?

Anthony: “Data is crucial for tracking progress and ensuring that diversity initiatives aren’t just performative. By continuously evaluating policies and employee feedback, organizations can adjust strategies to better support all employees.”

Jeremy: Any final thoughts on how organizations can better support authentic diversity and inclusion year-round?

Anthony: “Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be confined to specific months or events. Continuous discussion and improvement are necessary to create truly inclusive spaces. It’s about making everyone feel welcome to share their true selves, regardless of their background.”

Anthony Papini’s insights remind us that authenticity is not just about individual expression but also about creating an environment where everyone can thrive. His emphasis on actionable inclusion, supported by data and true leadership commitment, provides a roadmap for organizations aiming to foster genuine diversity and inclusion.

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