Black Women in Business: The 5 Laws of Being True to Thine Own Self

trueAre you a naturalista, but only straighten your hair for work? Or have you ever “code-switched” in front of co-workers to “fit in”? If so, please know that you are NOT alone.

In a study by ESSENCE magazine, it was found that Black women are significantly more likely to code-switch and change their personality in the workplace than their non-Hispanic counterparts. In this study, the following results were found:

-80% of Black women felt they needed to adjust their personalities to succeed at work

-50% of Black female Millennials, 42% of Gen Xers, and 30% of Baby Boomers want to be seen as the “Acculturated Girl Next Door” aka the professional who is nonthreatening and will easily conform

-57% of Black women felt they needed to change their physical appearance to fit in at work (i.e. straighten their hair or change their personal style of dress)

In addition, research has shown that many Black female professionals fear of being labeled as the “Angry Black Woman.” 

If you are guilty of changing yourself to fit in with others at work, you can probably admit how exhausting it can be. Living two different lives, and having the “work me” and the “personal me” will not result in a healthy and beneficial outcome. Psychologists claim that a large number of people are living in two separate worlds, captured in their own lies, striving for the approval from others.

Putting so much energy towards being someone that you are not, and not staying true to your own-self can damage your self-esteem, and can prevent you from truly growing and being the best you can be.

It is time for code-switching and changing yourself at work to stop. Once you make the choice to be your authentic self, your team will be more comfortable around you, and they will be able to gauge a better sense of who you are. Dave Pelzer & Jacqueline Wood said it best, “To help yourself, you must be yourself. Be the best that you can be. Don’t be afraid to be awesome. Sometimes being different is good.”

Staying true to yourself at work is easier than you may think. When you are at work, make sure you are following these 5 laws of being authentic. By doing so, you will be on the road to self-improvement and staying true to yourself.

1. Thou shall have self-respect.

When you have self-respect, you have a true sense of dignity, pride, and humility. This self-respect will come from being true to who you are. When you have self-respect, others will sense your strength and confidence.

2. Thou shall believe in one’s self.

Believing in yourself is very critical and it can help you achieve success. In business, there will be times when you experience failures or setbacks, but you have to believe that failing at something is better than not trying at all. If you don’t believe in yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to.

3. Thou shall live to be oneself.

When you are constantly worried about what others think, and change your ways to fit in with others, it is detrimental to your well-being. Do not manipulate yourself to seek approval or to avoid disapproval from others. You know what you value and how you see the world so do not change that for anyone.

4. Thou shall take care of the mind, body, and spirit.

Feeling good and looking good will do wonders for you. When you eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, engage in physical exercise, and get adequate amount of sleep each night, it will keep you feeling and looking good. In addition, taking the time out of each day to pray, meditate, and connect with yourself is great for the mind and spirit.

5. Thou shall always strive for better.

One important lesson of staying true to yourself is knowing what your passions are and not ignoring them. When you find what you are passionate about, work extremely hard to live out your dreams. Whether that may lead to switching jobs or careers, starting a new business, or teaching yourself a new skill, it is crucial to always work hard to better yourself.

Take aways: Be authentic, and always BE YOU! The more that you honor what makes you unique, the more you will feel safe and secure in yourself.

Ladies what do you think about these laws? Do you agree or disagree?


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