The myth of bringing your full, authentic self to work

15 min Source: TED Talk


The presenter argues that racism is rampant in American organisations, and in order for black people to be accepted they need to pretend to be someone they’re not.


Jodi-Ann Burey argues that minorities, particularly people of colour, cannot bring what she calls their 'full, authentic self' into the workplace. Burey makes several confronting claims, including that:

  • 'White privilege' is rampant in organisations.
  • Privilege and discrimination manifest in such ways as lack of opportunity and racial pay gaps.
  • Organisations claim they want to diversify their workforces, but only if those minorities conform to the social norms of 'whiteness'.
  • In workplace meetings, she is not properly listened to because of her skin colour. 
  • Raising issues in the workforce such as police brutality and racism aren't appreciated by her white colleagues.
  • When given workplace reviews and feedback, she is accused of playing the 'race card' instead of taking on-board advice about being more conciliatory with her colleagues.
  • Burey's talk also mentions other forms of workplace discrimination, including sexismageism and discrimination against those with disabilities. Still, her main focus is on the discrimination of black Americans and how workplace leaders need to embrace difference better.

The transcript of Jodi-Ann Burey's talk is available here.