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Guest Blog: Flipping the Switch

Workplace Culture Feb 10, 2021
The impact of code-switching on underrepresented demographics in the workplace

It’s Monday morning, and it’s time for work. Black women are flat-ironing natural curls and forgoing their favorite shade of lipstick. Non-native English speakers from all walks of life are practicing greetings and pronunciations. People who don’t conform to one gender are wondering if a blouse could mean termination or worse. Skirt or trousers? Hijab or not? My birth name or something easier to grasp?

For many people, this Monday morning routine is just the beginning step required to navigate the world, in or outside of the office. The Harvard Business Review defines code-switching as “adjusting one’s style of speech, appearance, behavior, and expression in ways that will optimize the comfort of others in exchange for fair treatment, quality service, and employment opportunities.” That means much more than remembering to shower after your run; it means conscientiously covering your background to be more presentable in standardized settings.


Guest Author

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