ICON 2020 Session Highlight- Inclusion and Addressing Imposter Syndrome

This post is part of PRSSA’s ICON 2020 coverage. Be sure to check out our student recaps on Progressions as well as other coverage on PRSay,the official blog of PRSA.

Corporate diversity and inclusion have been hot topics for the past few years and lately have gained more attention through social justice movements like Black Lives Matter.

Major companies have listened and taken action to implement diversity outreach plans and strategies but have lacked in creating inclusion plans.

“Being able to bring your authentic self to work is a challenge many face today,” said Brandi Boatner, social justice communications lead, IBM Corporate Communications.

“Inclusion means creating a safe space where everyone can be who they really are and share their insights, thoughts, and perspectives,” said Boatner.

Boatner addresses two main factors that are the problem with the lack of inclusion practices in the workplace: imposter syndrome and covering.

Imposter Syndrome

Did you know it is estimated that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome?

It has been found that people who suffer from imposter syndrome are high achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. If you have ever felt this, you are not alone.

Imposter syndrome can make you believe your accomplishments did not come from hard work but instead, you were ‘lucky,’ or you were at the ‘right place and right time.’

According to psychologist Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they do not deserve the success they have. This can affect their psychological well-being.

There are many different types of imposter syndrome. Common types are as follows:

  • The Perfectionist
  • The Superwoman/man
  • The Natural Genius
  • The Soloist
  • The Expert


Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law and the Director of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Kenji Yoshino wrote a book called, Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights.

The book explains that the term covering is a strategy through which an individual downplays a known stigmatized identity to blend into the mainstream. There are four types of covering. They are as follows:

  • Appearance
  • Affiliation
  • Advocacy
  • Association

In order to combat imposter syndrome and covering Boatner suggests employers need to increase psychological safety in teams. This would enhance employee performance and allow diverse thinking. Studies show social sensitivity correlates with team performance. Teams with high psychological safety outperform peers.

“Greater authenticity leads to enhanced performance.”

Kim AldunateKimberly Aldunate is a senior studying public relations and advertising with a specialization in social media and marketing analytics at Florida International University in Miami, Fla. She is currently the Chapter president for FIU PRSSA, and a District Ambassador for PRSSA National, supporting Tri-State area Chapters and PRoud Council member. Aldunate is interested in the media, entertainment and tech industries. She’s a relationship builder enthusiast and you can find her at every networking event. Follow her on Instagram and/or Twitter @kimaldunate and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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