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  • Writer's pictureAlyscia Raines

The Case for Authenticity at Work for Black Folks: A Reflection on our Recent Presentation at NCOR

July 18, 2023

By Alyscia Raines, ADR CEO and Lead Strategist 

In May, ADR Associate Consultant, Omari Keeles, and I, had the opportunity to present at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity (NCORE) in New Orleans, LA. In our session titled "Authenticity for Black Professionals at Work,” we aimed to create a safe and empowering space for Black professionals to explore the importance of embracing their authentic selves in the workplace.

Our session delved into the complexities that Black professionals often face while navigating corporate environments, where the pressure to conform to societal norms can challenge their sense of identity and self-worth. Through open and candid discussions, Omari and I debunked the narratives that perpetuate this struggle, celebrating the unique talents, perspectives, and experiences that Black individuals bring to their professional lives. Additionally, we discussed the responsibility of organizations that claim to promote inclusion to foster a culture that includes psychological safety and does not penalize those who show up as their authentic selves at work.

The energy in the room was electric, and the sense of camaraderie and solidarity within the audience was palpable. We were humbled by the level of engagement and vulnerability displayed by the participants as they shared personal stories. Witnessing these profound connections emphasized the significance of creating spaces for Black professionals to be seen, heard, and valued. This significance was also underscored by the overwhelming turnout. The session was standing room only, with attendees standing in the back, nearly spilling into the hallway, sitting on the floor, and lining the walls for the entire 90-minute duration. This engagement and enthusiasm underscored the urgency and relevance of this dialogue in shaping a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

The impact of the session extended beyond its duration. Inspired by the discussions and the thirst for more, we are excited to announce that ADR will be facilitating this session at conferences throughout the year. The opportunity to engage with professionals from diverse industries and regions fills us with hope that these conversations will continue to empower individuals on their personal and professional journeys.

I am also thrilled to share that NCORE has graciously invited us to return and present on this topic at future conferences, noting our session as one of the most highly acclaimed sessions of the entire conference with over 5,000 attendees. The recognition of the importance of this conversation reaffirms our commitment to fostering authenticity and inclusivity in the workplace.

As I reflect on this incredible experience, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead this session at NCORE. It has reinforced the significance of creating spaces where marginalized communities can share their stories and thrive authentically. I am excited to continue advocating for authentic leadership and nurturing workplaces where every individual feels empowered to bring their whole selves to work. The journey towards an equitable and inclusive workplace is ongoing, and I am committed to amplifying the voices and stories shared during the session, both within my own organization and the wider professional community.

Our presentation at NCORE on "Authenticity at Work for Black Professionals" was a testament to the power of collective action, the strength in embracing our true selves, and the potential for positive change when we come together to foster inclusivity.

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