Even as I type ‘authentic self’, it almost seems too cliche to be a topic. But that is exactly makes the concept so important. For starters, what is ‘authentic self’? To be clear, being one’s authentic self is not a license to act improperly or to perpetuate biases and discrimination in the workplace. It is the intentional act of expressing yourself as you are. It is the ability to take off any self-imposed layers of being who we think people around us perceive us to be and rather simply being who we are.
The freedom to be one’s true, authentic self anywhere and everywhere is crucial to all of us as humans regardless of our race, gender and other self-identification. In my experience as an African woman in a diverse workplace, I find that there can be a subconscious attempt to modify aspects of ourselves such as our accents, pronunciations and mannerisms to mirror the dominant styles in the workplace.
It is important to acknowledge that breaking out of the mold has to be an intentional effort. And here are three ways to do so –
- Whenever you feel the need to conform, remind yourself that its okay to stand out
- Be genuine in your interactions with your colleagues and encourage open, honest conversations
- Do not be afraid to share your unique perspectives and experiences
For employers and people managers, the first step to encouraging authenticity at work is creating an open work environment where everyone feels included, valued, accepted and that they belong.
In summary, being your whole and true self in the workplace and everywhere else is a journey that takes time and effort. Be genuine, intentional, and patient with yourself as you strive to be your true self in all aspects of life.
Image Description: Black women collaborating around a conference table. Image generated by Dall-E 2