“The corporation for me is a theater, and I try to remember to stay in character.”
That’s the blunt response from one African-American executive to a dilemma that dogs many people of color in American workplaces: Even as multicultural fluency is increasingly prized in today’s global business environment, the very people who represent that diversity feel shut out….More than 35% of African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as 45% of Asians, say they “need to compromise their authenticity” to conform to their company’s standards of demeanor or style. Forty percent of African-Americans — and a third of people of color overall — feel like outsiders in their corporate culture, compared with 26% of Caucasians.
“Companies have been good at creating a workforce that looks different,” says Andrés Tapia, author of The Inclusion Paradox. But, he adds, “they’ve fallen short when it comes to understanding how to develop a corporate culture where all employees feel included, respected, comfortable, and able to do their best work.”
Fewer than a third of Asian-Americans feel very comfortable being themselves at work, according to earlier research from the CTI (PDF). An Indian vice president at a multinational pharmaceutical firm recounts being told by her boss that her Anglo-Indian accent was “too stuffy.” She, like many others interviewed in our studies, avoids referring to Hindu holidays, discussing cultural mores with coworkers, or wearing anything that might be perceived as too ethnic. “You lead a dual life, you absolutely do,” said another Indian senior manager. “There is an inhibition. You just don’t want to talk about it. And I’d never dream of wearing a sari to work.”
I don’t talk about my work or my employer on this blog because I’m myself on this blog, while I’m wearing the mantle of a professional at work. I don’t show up at my job wearing my “I Pooped Today” T-Shirt, with my FAL slung, and my 1911 in my shoulder rig, and spend my time talking about how TSA employees should be tried and executed, while we should make Heroin legalized, and discussing my favorite pornography.
Of course none of that crap makes a difference in conducting my job, and would probably disrupt some of my coworkers from their jobs.
Seems like so much hand-wringing to me.
H/t Mrs. Weer’d