Maintaining Professional Decorum in the Office While Being Your Authentic Self | mumble in the jungle

Maintaining Professional Decorum in the Office While Being Your Authentic Self


Few outside of black women themselves can understand the conflict that comes with being a business professional while still maintaining true authenticity. For starters, unless heat or chemicals are used to manipulate their tresses, black women have to ponder, agonize and contemplate what hairstyles are appropriate for the office versus what will land them in hot water with their bosses. Imagine having to think about whether you are going to be able to keep your hair natural or alter it in some natural way just to be able to go up the corporate ladder.

In addition to researching online MBA questions, black women are forced to question how they can be themselves and still be accepted in a corporate environment. Although the struggle is real, employers have become much more accepting of diversity and leading black women in the workplace have been shying away from conformity in favor of being their natural selves.

Professional Black Women and Their Hair

Almost all women spend a little more time on their hair before going to work than men do. However, there is a difference between sprucing yourself up and feeling the need to change your hair texture completely in an attempt to fit in better. While most black women were reviewing their online MBA options, seldom were prepared for what they would face during their first round of interviews. Moreover, considering the fact that many corporate entities have placed restrictions on so-called ethnic hairstyles, such as braids, dreadlocks and afros, many black female professionals have felt that they have no choice other than to assimilate or risk not being taken seriously.

Health, Fitness and Body Image Standards

Despite the fact that people in the US continue to pack on the pounds, images of thin, fit and trim beauty standards are not going to go away anytime soon. Black women in the US have long been told that their bodies don’t meet these beauty image standards, making it more difficult for them to find professional attire that is flattering. Perhaps you are beginning to understand how these realities can make black women in the office feel extremely self-conscious. When you are told that your hair is different and that you should change it, and that the clothes that you wear make you look unprofessional, it is hard to maintain your confidence and self-esteem.

Being Honest About Stereotypes and Marginalization

These may be the realities that black women face, but they are not excuses for failure. The more honest people are with themselves about stereotypes, challenges and adversity, the faster they will be able to motivate themselves to elicit real change. Breaking through corporate barriers is not always about writing new laws or even changing the status quo. Sometimes you have to own them, and vow to change the system from within. There are employers in the corporate world who care more about credentials than personal appearance, so don’t ever feel that you have to change who you are inside to become a success.

Things for black women and other minorities are still not perfect, but they are much better now than they have been in generations past. It is not a requirement for you to relax your hair in order to land an interview. Instead, highlight all of your accomplishments and talk about your education so that employers get to see who you really are.