New ESSENCE Study: Hiding Your Authentic Self At Work Can Damage Your Career

Eighty percent of Black women surveyed feel they must alter their personalities to succeed in the office

Do you feel like you're hyperaware of your "Blackness" when it comes to your professional life? You're not alone. 

A groundbreaking new study commissioned by ESSENCE in partnership with Added Value Cheskin found that Black women are significantly more likely than non-Hispanic White women to downplay certain aspects of their personality in the workplace. The reason? An overwhelming fear of reinforcing negative stereotypes, such as the “Angry Black Woman.” 

Consequently, 80 percent of Black women surveyed felt they needed to make adjustments to their personalities to succeed at work—just 62 percent of non-Hispanic White women felt the same. Additionally, 57 percent of Black women also feel that they must physically appear a certain way (straightened hair, a certain style of dress…) in order to receive a promotion. Only 39 percent of non-Hispanic White women share that sentiment.

As a result, 50 percent of Black female Millennials, 42 percent of Gen Xers and 30 percent of Baby Boomers strive to be seen as the “Acculturated Girl Next Door,” a professional who is unthreatening and willing to conform.

Black women in the C-suite, however, had different takes on how they want to be perceived in the office. Thirty-nine percent of Black female executives said that they want to be known as "Inspiring Stars," women who are risk takers and who openly share the traits that differentiate them from others. 

The takeaway: Embracing your full personality at work not only could take you to the next level, but it could also ensure a higher sense of job satisfaction overall.

Read more about the study here

Be sure to follow us on Twitter tomorrow at 12:30 ET where we will be live-tweeting a panel featuring Black female execs and their advice on how you can advance in the workplace. Join us at @ESSENCE_debates today at 12:30 ET to ask your questions. They may be answered tomorrow during our panel.

Read More