Many people feel constant pressure to mask and curate who they are — to perform as someone they’re not rather than be who they are. This behaviour is damaging, says Ritu Bhasin, a DEI expert and renowned empowerment speaker, and we don’t need to live this way.
In her latest book, We’ve Got This: Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging, Ritu has drawn on her years of DEI, leadership, authenticity, and empowerment work to create a guidebook for anyone who’s felt “othered” on how to heal, thrive, and stand in their power. She also wrote it to help leaders be better allies by practicing empathy and learning more about the barriers to belonging.
Ritu is the CEO of bhasin consulting inc. (bsi), a preeminent leadership and inclusion consulting firm, and a passionate advocate for authentic leadership, allyship, and psychological safety. She has worked with hundreds of renowned organizations across industries to take their DEI strategies to the next level and unlock the power of belonging in their workplaces for transformative results.
Ritu’s fierce commitment to teaching others to live, work, and lead more authentically comes from a very personal place — her experience with racist childhood bullying, cultural confusion, and the constant pressure to conform.
Below, Ritu shares her personal story and how it influenced her DEI advocacy work as well as her new book. She also shares an excerpt from We’ve Got This exploring the interconnection between authenticity and belonging in the workplace.
Contact us to learn more about Ritu and how she can help your organization elevate its DEI strategies.
I’m Ritu — a belonging devotee, empowerment author, leadership speaker, life coach, and justice advocate who wants to help you live a life you love.
My mission is to help create a world that’s filled with belonging for all. I want everyone to experience the beauty that comes with living their truth.
As a passionate advocate for authenticity, I’ve now presented to hundreds of thousands globally and coached over a thousand people to cultivate and claim belonging. I’m living proof of what can happen when you stand in your power while fighting the hate and hardships in your way.
I wasn’t always empowered to be an unapologetic, fiercely authentic person.
Born in Toronto, Canada to Sikh Punjabi immigrant parents, I experienced the constant sting of racist bullying growing up, while also struggling with cultural tension about my identities. I internalized that something was wrong with me because I was a sassy and smart Brown girl from a humble background. I learned to self-loathe.
I carried my insecurities and the pressure to conform into my work life, first as a lawyer and then as an HR leader at a global law firm. While it may have looked like I was living a “dream life”, on the inside I was so unhappy. The person I was in my day-to-day life bore little resemblance to my true self.
My feelings of unworthiness — brought on by hateful and hurtful experiences — had seeped into my relationships. Others were deciding my happiness and people around me constantly judged me. I felt intense pressure to hide my pain and to be perfect in order to “fit in”. I was lost and needed to change my life, but I didn’t know where to begin or what my life could look like.
I was in my early 30s when a string of events (which I talk all about in my book We’ve Got This) led me to reconnect with my core values and who I am: an open-hearted, loving, kind, vulnerable, and passionate person.
Looking to heal and transform my life, I left my corporate job, launched my global DEI consulting firm, became a yoga and mindfulness teacher, studied trauma and wellness healing practices, wrote the bestselling books, The Authenticity Principle and We’ve Got This, dedicated my life to empowering others. And I’ve never looked back.
What Belonging and Authenticity Mean to Me
Belonging for me is about creating a world where everyone can be who they are. I want you to live your best, most authentic and empowered life — not just personally, but in your professional life as well.
This is what led me to write The Authenticity Principle, my first book and my new book We’ve Got This: Unlocking the Beauty of Belonging. I want everyone on this planet to experience the magic that comes with standing in your power in how you live, work, and lead.
One of the greatest insights I’ve had in researching and writing in this space for many years is that belonging and authenticity go hand in hand. What do I mean by this? Here is an excerpt from We’ve Got This that explains the connection.
Belonging is the feeling of being accepted for who you are by your own self and by the people you choose to be bonded with, so that you feel seen and valued. It’s about your instinctive need to reveal your authenticity and, in doing so, knowing you’ll be honored and respected for who you are across your identities. Because belonging is a feeling, your body will signal to you that you’re experiencing acceptance, through the comforting and affirming sensations within you. You’ll feel safe, calm, and at ease.
Authenticity is the practice of consistently choosing to know, embrace, and be who you are, especially what makes you different and unique, as much as possible. It’s at the root of what I call the Authenticity Principle: the life tenet that when you consistently choose to be authentic, you’ll feel more joyful and connected to yourself, you’ll bring this spirit into your interactions, and in doing so you’ll invite people to do the same back with you. When you’re practicing authenticity, you’ll feel warm and uplifting sensations all over your body.
Given these definitions, it is easy to see how belonging and authenticity are inextricably intertwined. To experience belonging, you must be able to reveal your authentic self. And when you feel safe to be your authentic self, this is when you experience the greatest belonging.
This connection between belonging and authenticity underscores an essential takeaway: the most important relationship you’ll ever cultivate is the one you have with yourself. It’s not until you feel seen, accepted, and loved by yourself that you’ll enjoy deep and meaningful connection with others. Simply put, you won’t experience belonging until you first honor your authentic self.
Ritu delves into belonging and its role in cultivating inclusive spaces in her powerful keynotes exploring authentic leadership, workplace culture, and DEI. Contact us to learn more and to book Ritu for your next event.