Code switching is often a way of life for Black women in the workplace. Whether it’s the tone of their voices or the texture of their hair, Black women are pressured to change who they are to fit into the workplace. They might feel like they are walking on eggshells, as they navigate microaggressions and the constant need to monitor how they speak, dress and behave. 

HR expert and founder of Balangize, Lashaunique Plummer knows the pressure to change herself to fit into the workplace all too well. Early on in her career, she was told to change her name on her resume because she wouldn’t get hired.

“I knew the stereotypes about my 11-letter name with ‘nique’ at the end,” she told 21Ninety. “I knew the perception was that I was less professional and therefore, bias would likely rule me out.”

Plummer refused to change her name when she began her career to fit into the workplace. She urges other Black women to stay true to themselves in the workplace. 

An HR Professional’s Refusal to Change Herself

Despite the cautionary advice, Plummer never changed her name on her resume.

“I made a very firm decision,” she said. “If they are unwilling to accept something as simple as my name, then it isn’t a good fit for me.”

As a result of not code switching, she has landed jobs throughout her career where managers accepted and nurtured her. Plummer’s career has been one of authenticity and longevity, as she has stayed in her various roles each for several years.

Advice for Black Women in the Workplace

Plummer adamantly teaches her Balangize clients not to change things about themselves to land any position. This includes not removing experiences or erasing titles from their resumes to fit into a box.

“For example, let’s say you used to be in customer service, and now you are pivoting to HR,” she said. “You might think the role is not relevant and will be a turn-off to leaders.”

It might be tempting to change things about yourself, especially if you are getting instant rejections in this difficult job market. The truth is the right company will value all of your experiences.

Plummer emphasized the importance of bringing your whole self to a job interview and on your resume. This includes showcasing your full work portfolio, as well as showing up authentically with what makes you who you are.

“You will be a lot happier and safer when you show up authentically,” Plummer said. “The more you mold yourself, the less aligned roles you will land.”