PHOTOS: Inside ESSENCE's Black Women at Work Panel

On the tail of a ESSENCE-commissioned study, which found that Black women are likely to hide their authentic selves in the workplace, we hosted a dynamic Black Women at Work panel. Moderated by Melissa Harris-Perry and featuring Nailah Flake-Brown (Morgan Stanley), Shawn Outler (Macy's) and Wanji Walcott (American Express)—all top execs at their companies—we explored how to stay true to yourself while climbing the ranks in your industry. Take a look inside of the powerful luncheon.

Taylor Lewis Apr, 06, 2015

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Our study found that 44 percent of Black women surveyed felt that they were developing skills that would help them advance at work, yet 70 percent of them said that they were worried about being perceived as an "Angry Black Woman." Our panelists, pictured here with MSNBC host and ESSENCE contributor Melissa Harris-Perry and ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca, explored those issues during our lunchtime panel. Left to right: Nailah Flake-Brown, Shawn Outler, Harris-Perry, Wanji Walcott, De Luca.

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The Today Show's Tamron Hall stopped by the luncheon, joining dozens of other Black female professionals who were in attendance. 

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Melissa Harris-Perry, pictured here after the event, hosted the panel and asked our panelists everything from how they deal with the "angry Black woman" stereotype to how they've learned to embrace risks. "It's a reality that we live in a world where the opportunities that Black women are given aren't in line with their skills," she said.

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Nailah Flake-Brown, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, spoke on whether certain work environments had the power to alter our personalities. "It is so important that we project to people what we want them to see in us," she said. "If you feel like you can't be yourself at a particular job, that's probably not the job for you." Pictured here after the panel speaking to a guest.

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When asked whether she had a role model or sponsor, Wanji Walcott, Managing Counsel at American Express, recalled growing up admiring her mother. "My mother was always a constant professional, and I knew from a young age that she was respected in her workplace," Walcott said. "When I was young, I would ask why she was dressed up some days. She would say, 'I wasn't feeling so well, so I decided to dress up.'" Pictured here after the panel.

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Shawn Outler, Vice-President of Weddings and Gifts at Macy's, admitted that she's scared every day in her job, but she doesn't let that affect her work performance. "You just have to tell yourself nobody's badder than you, then keep going," she said to applause. Pictured here (left) with ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks.