A decade after releasing “Uncovering Talent,” Deloitte’s DEI Institute collaborated with NYU School of Law’s Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging to revisit and expand their covering research. The study, conducted in 2023, reveals that 60% of workers report covering at work, mirroring statistics from their 2013 report.
Covering behaviors, defined by Deloitte as the downplay of “known disfavored identities to fit into mainstream corporate cultures,” molds along four axes (appearance-based, affiliation-based, advocacy-based, association-based), and can impact workers’ ability to express their authentic selves. The prevalence of covering varies across gender, race, and sexual orientation, with non-dominant groups reporting higher rates.
Leaders play a crucial role in shaping workplace culture. While 50% of workers believe their team leaders create psychological safety for authenticity—the research indicates that leaders, including C-Suite executives, often cover more than lower-level employees.
Covering imposes costs on individuals and organizations—negatively affecting well-being, commitment, and job performance. This presents an opportunity for organizations to foster an uncovering culture.
The report suggests three practical solutions for leaders to implement immediately—emphasizing the importance of challenging a culture of covering and building an environment that encourages authenticity and belonging.