It is not a great idea to hide one's true social identity, race and ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or a disability at work as it can have a negative effect of decreased job satisfaction.
The study, from Rice University, the University of Houston and George Mason University, examined the behaviour of 211 working adults in an online survey and measured factors such as identity, perceived discrimination, job satisfaction and turnover intentions.
"The workplace is becoming a much more diverse place, but there are still some individuals who have difficulty embracing what makes them different, especially while on the job," Michelle Hebl, co-author of the study, said.
"Previous research suggests that employees who perceive discrimination or are afraid of receiving discrimination are more likely to fall into this category of individuals who feel the need to suppress or conceal their identity," Hebl said.
The study also showed that suppressing one's true identity might result in exposure to co-workers' discriminatory behaviour, as people are less likely to care about appearing prejudiced when they are not in the presence of an "out" group member.
"This research highlights the fact that people make decisions every day about whether it is safe to be themselves at work, and that there are real consequences of these decisions," Rice alumna Eden King, study co-author, said.
On the contrary, the research finds that expression of one's true identity in a workplace can have positive impact on their interpersonal relationships.
"When individuals embrace their social identity in the workplace, other co-workers might be more sensitive to their behaviour and treatment of individuals like them," Juan Madera, lead author of the study, said.
"And quite often, what's good for the worker is good for the workplace. The employees feel accepted and have better experiences with co-workers, which creates a positive working environment that may lead to decreased turnover and greater profits," Madera said.
The authors hope their research will encourage the general public to be accepting of people with diverse backgrounds and become allies to them and encourage employers to implement policies that foster a positive organizational culture.
The study has been published in the Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology journal.