The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Celebrating Quiet Brilliance

celebrating-quiet-brillianceYou know that really quiet person in your department? The one who shies away from the limelight? The one who doesn’t speak up much in meetings? The one who prefers solitude over group dynamics? That person may be an introvert — someone who does his or her best work and feels most at ease when he or she has plenty of time for quiet reflection and deep contemplation. Or maybe you’re that person.

Some introverts have a hard time connecting with colleagues and thriving in the workplace, simply because they are misunderstood. They’re deemed meek, not a team player, socially awkward and even “snobby.” But according to Cheryl Cofield, director of culture, diversity and inclusion at Georgia Institute of Technology, “in most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Introverts just have a different way of working, interacting and communicating.”

And through Georgia Tech’s newly launched (and first of its kind nationwide) employee resource group for introverts, Cofield aims to provide self-professed introverts with opportunities to come together with like-minded people and celebrate their unique contributions to the Georgia Tech community while providing resources and tools to help them thrive in their careers. She also hopes the group will help to enhance awareness and understanding of “the challenges introverts face in extrovert-ideal workplaces.”

With its outreach efforts to introverts, Georgia Tech reminds us that inclusion isn’t just about race, gender, or other outward signs of diversity, but that there’s a broad spectrum of individual traits and characteristics that deserve to be recognized and celebrated in our workplaces.

In addition to the introvert group, Georgia Tech has recently created several other ERGs. To read about these groups and how HR drove the initiative, check out CUPA-HR’s The Higher Education Workplace article “A Roadmap for ERGs: With HR at the Wheel.”