During the most recent episode of Wallet Watch, representatives from the African American Employee Resource Group discuss how employers and employees can promote a company culture of bringing your authentic self to work. As they share their journeys, we realize many people struggle with being genuine in the workplace. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, they found that, “Overall, 72% of people said they are authentic at work, taking an average of two to three months to show their true selves. Of this group, 60% were authentic by the three-month mark and 22% by nine months.” Jennifer Norgbey, relates. “There is definitely a corporate mask that either society or life in general has made me feel like I have to put on when I come to work. I am just learning to take that mask off and let people see who I really am, and I think spaces like this make me feel more comfortable to do that.”
Finding employers, like MSU Federal Credit Union, who allow employees to remain true to themselves and how they choose to represent themselves creates an inspiring workplace culture. Brittany Childs reflects on her time at the Credit Union. “I know being authentic to some people is their hair. Being a black woman, styling my hair was something that I did fear coming to the Credit Union, but I’ve learned over the years that I can’t change the way that my hair grows out of my head. Another thing with expression, I really appreciate the Credit Union taking strides to hire individuals who may have teal or mermaid colored or rainbow colored hair. In 2015, I came to the Credit Union and I remember I was so saddened, I cried. I had to remove my piercings because originally we did not have in our employee manual that piercings were allowed. But, the Credit Union went back, analyzed, and made those changes, and now we accept a nose ring or a lip ring and those are how I express myself. I love going home, I love being able to change out my jewelry, and I feel like it is a strong part of who I am. When the Credit Union made those strides, I was just really proud that we were taking steps to allow people to express themselves and be their genuine selves at work because those things can be important to some people.”
Facilitating authenticity, however, is not the sole responsibility of the employer. It also requires work and commitment from employees. In order to be true to yourself at work, it requires conviction, vulnerability and trust. The representatives of the AAERG also discuss steps to begin bringing your genuine self to work. Juwan Howard weighs in and suggests asking yourself, “What is it that you value within yourself out of work that you can bring in to work? Look for that inner piece of the puzzle that you would want to portray yourself while you are working to make yourself feel more natural while you are in this space.”
To hear Juwan’s other suggestions and to learn more about how to bring your authentic self to work, listen to the full episode by going to Spotify, Podbean, or Apple Podcast.
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