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A Note for Employees of Color

African American professional dressed in a trendy outfit and glasses thinking over a message, while sitting in a café.

In an ideal world, code switching would not need to be a survival mechanism at work, yet it is a real experience for many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals and other diverse communities. The article The Costs of Code Switching notes how “code switching can generate positive and negative outcomes for Black employees.” When BIPOC individuals downplay their membership in a stigmatized racial group, the behavior is often perceived to increase perceptions of professional standards and the likelihood of being hired. Code switching has both positive and negative outcomes for those who use it. The article approaches code switching to achieve positive outcomes with a great deal of reservation. Preferably, strategic code switching should be implemented only if it helps career development and aligns with an individual’s personal values. Further, the same article recommends that BIPOC individuals assess their environment to decide whether they wish to use this strategy at all.

Ultimately, it falls on the organization to implement policies that allow BIPOC individuals and other diverse communities to embrace their culture at work, reducing stressors that otherwise impact an employee’s productivity. If employees are expending energy putting up a front or feeling defensive, they are not putting that energy to its best use on the job. To get the most beneficial contributions from employees, work environments must embrace diversity and allow individuals to be truer to themselves. Creating a psychologically safe space for authenticity in the workplace allows everyone the opportunity to let their inner lights shine.

Understanding that BIPOC individuals might be experiencing black fatigue can help an organization develop strategies to mitigate the effects of this type of exhaustion.

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