REVIEW: Dobson-Smith — You Can Be Yourself Here (BOOK)
DDS Dobson-Smith’s new book is just as laudable for what it does, as for what it doesn’t do. In an era when rightwing critics can often claim progressive and postmodernist leadership advice panders to a politically correct agenda, Dobson-Smith is refreshingly unapologetic, candid, and to-the-point. The succinctness is one of the book’s strongest qualities. Dobson-Smith divides the different windows advocating for his corporate philosophy leadership appropriately, things remaining both in-lane and bell clear as categorically nothing bleeds out of proportion.
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He’s brave to begin the book in potentially divisive territory. Rather than advocating for the immediate, external justifications of a tolerant, inclusive, and progressive workplace on a firmly fact-based and statistical plane, he starts with the moral incentives. In less competent hands, this could be literarily disastrous in keeping the argument(s) tangible, and wholly defensible on all sides. But Dobson-Smith simultaneously highlights the moral imperatives for their fully fleshed value, while making such statements lead naturally and organically into the hard data supporting them in a case-by-case, step-by-step breakdown.
This is completed with personalized, and three-dimensional analogies, examples, and real world profiles. “Everyone — no matter what body they were born into, no matter where they come from, no matter what they believe — deserves to belong. I believe that the experience of belonging has never been more desired, yet has never been more at risk, especially in the world of work,” Dobson-Smith writes. “I know, from personal experience, what it takes to build workplaces where people experience belonging — and the magic that happens when they do.”
He further states, “I have seen time and again, the world over, that when human beings feel like they belong somewhere, the psychological resources (that would otherwise be preoccupied in helping that person to bend themselves out of shape to fit in) are liberated to focus on what’s important: their performance, their work, and their relationships.”
By making things so tangible, and so sensible in terms of their articulation, Dobson-Smith makes the book — complete with its summarizing title, You Can Be Yourself Here, well-rounded and wholly defensible. It’s refreshing to see what someone with the literary chops and a full view of ideology can do to contribute to conversation. In the case of Dobson-Smith, it’s a welcome addition to a narrative that is taking up space by storm, redefining the cultural vocabulary on an intellectual and emotionally empathic level. “I want to be clear that this book is not a political statement about red versus blue, Republican versus Democrat, or Tory versus Labor.
At the same time, I want to acknowledge that it is not possible to have a conversation about equality and equity without, at some point, also talking about structural oppression and the way in which legal and political systems work to keep said structural oppression in place and alive,” he writes. “With all of that said, this book is written in support of the human experience and the steps you can take, regardless of political affiliation, to create intentional workplaces where people feel like they belong.”