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An open letter to the CEOs killing their companies


Dear CEOs,

You’ve seen the recent push in Silicon Valley to make the work experience less about the humans who work for the company – and more about the company itself.

Sure, I’ll give you professionalism in the workplace.

But when you ignore the humanity and individuality in your workforce, we all lose.

Here’s my response:

Embrace the “bring your whole self” philosophy. Encourage your employees to participate in your mission while expressing their own interests and individuality.

Do they have to be mutually exclusive?

Stop suppressing your employees’ personal expression

Limiting your employees’ individuality is what many are after. Just take it from Brian Armstrong of Coinbase.

Here are the consequences of actions like Brian’s:

  • Employee morale and mental health — When people feel they have to hide their true selves, what do you think happens? Individual freedom is one of the many reasons America has thrived. I immediately think of stress, anxiety and even depression. A healthy work environment should allow employees to feel comfortable being who they are.
  • Creativity and innovation — Diverse perspectives drive innovation. In fact, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to lead in innovation. By limiting conversations, you might just be [unintentionally] hindering your company’s ability to think outside the box.
  • Legal and ethical concerns — Firing employees for expressing their political beliefs can lead to huge legal issues. Tread carefully.

So who wants to work for a company that doesn’t allow you to be who you are? Not me. So add on hiring challenges too.

Why embrace “bring your whole self” to work?

So you’re thinking about coming to the light side. Here are some of the benefits of encouraging your employees to be themselves:

  • Employee engagement and satisfactionHappy workers are more productive workers. When employees express themselves and bring their unique perspectives to the table, they’re more likely to be engaged. Meaning less turnover and more profit. Cha ching!
  • Culture of inclusivity and diversity — Value and respect all your employees – no matter their background. Embracing your people for who they are helps create an inclusive workplace culture, which makes everyone feel welcome and valued.

    “In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.”— Maya Angelou
  • Open dialogue — A culture that welcomes a wide range of opinions will see greater collaboration and teamwork. And you know what that means. More engaged, driven employees.

Like I said earlier, no one wants to work in such a negative environment. Attract and retain the best talent in your industry by celebrating and supporting your employees – in their professional and personal endeavors.

Now that’s leadership.

Striking the right balance: How to encourage personal expression while maintaining professionalism

Of course, this is a spectrum. On one side you have Jason Fried of Basecamp. And on the other you have me 🤗

But there’s a happy medium.

The key is to find the right balance between a culture of individuality vs. mission-focused.

  1. Establish expectations for workplace discussions — Make sure your employees understand the boundaries for appropriate conversation and behavior in the workplace. And do this before anything else*******. (That’s why it’s #1)*******
  2. Encourage communication and feedback — Design a culture from the ground up ain’t easy. Take it from me. Provide opportunities for employees to voice their opinions and ideas. Because after all, you’re building this company around them.
  3. Celebrate employees’ uniqueness — Recognize and appreciate the value that each individual brings to your team. That means supporting them in and out of the workplace. Your leaders’ relationships with employees are key here.

So, here’s a call to action

Friends in the C-suite, I understand your decision. I sit in the same seat as you.

Consider the value of embracing a “Bring Your Whole Self” approach. Reevaluate your current policies and practices. Ask yourself if you truly support the well-being, creativity and growth of your people.

Because after all, they’re people – not robots******.******

Terri Wada

CEO, Collabo XD



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