Every office has its own culture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your place within it. As Black Enterprise editor-at-large Alfred Edmond Jr. puts it: “Being authentic in your career is not so much about getting a particular environment to accept you as you are, but navigating your way to environments that are a good match for who you are.” Here, Alfred and a few of his colleagues share their tips around bringing your own unique identities and values with you to work.
1. You can’t please everyone – and that’s not the goal, anyway.
“I did worry about risks associated with not catering to the opinions of others – but I’ve learned to have conviction in my level of awesomeness and in the integrity of my work. I’m willing to deal with any consequences that come as a result of me being true to myself. I was once accused of possessing an attitude that I was certain I didn’t possess. This accusation taught me that on any given day all you can do is your best and let the chips fall where they may. I was reminded to please myself first and to not give much energy to the rest.” – Safon Floyd, digital editor, @accordingtofon
2. Build confidence in yourself first.
“I decided to be myself at work when I realized that I was not being 100 percent authentic in my personal life due to a lack of confidence. I’ve learned to love and embrace the person that I am, so it has become easier for me to be myself 24/7. I love the real me, and so do most other people.” – Selena Hill, associate digital editor, @MsSelenaHill
3. Own your differences.
“If you’re an opinionated person with views that are different, it is more challenging to be authentic without eventually offending someone. You must be comfortable in your own skin and voice no matter what the majority thinks. It takes strength, courage, and the willingness to be left fending for yourself. However, once mastered, this is one of the greatest assets you will ever have. Eventually, you will walk into any room and draw others to you without the effort. You will find your people.” – Maryann Reid, digital managing editor, @RealAlphanista
4. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
“While the attire in many work environments, including mine, has trended toward becoming increasingly casual, my personal style remains traditional business, with pops of color and unique accents including bow ties, pocket squares, cuff links, brightly patterned socks, and fedoras. Even my business-casual attire honors my personal dress code of ‘standing out, while fitting in.’ At the beginning of my career, I was a new graduate of Rutgers University working at a small community newspaper. The staff wore whatever they wanted to work, including sneakers, jeans and t-shirts. I wore dress shirts, slacks, leather shoes, and ties, despite often being teased (playfully) by my coworkers, all of whom were 10-plus years older than I was. My style was casual but fly and definitely “business.” Not saying that my attire had anything to do with it, but in less than a year, at age 24, I was named editor-in-chief and became everyone else’s manager.” – Alfred Edmond Jr., senior vice president/editor-at-large, @alfrededmondjr
Photo Credit: Elisha Holmes, Keith Moore, Dwight Carter and Mary B. Photography
The Well is the editorial hub of Jopwell, the diversity recruitment platform that helps Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American professionals and students connect with opportunities at top companies and unlock their career potential.