Societal Standards of Professionalism
In Today’s Workplace
In the article ‘Racism runs deep in professional culture’ Uddin states, “Black people’s hair is still policed in the workforce today. A corporate board recruiter quoted that she would much rather hire a woman with a sleek ponytail than one with a natural hairstyle such as locs or an Afro. Preferences for employees with eurocentric hairstyles — such as straightened relaxed hair — is not an upholding of professionalism; it is a hatred of Black people.”
Professional culture informed by Eurocentrism and racial assumptions clearly creates barriers to employment and career advancement for racialized people. As an employer and an ally to Black and other racialized minorities, this is a call to re-examine your standards and expectations of professionalism to decide if it is indeed racism disguised under the cloak of professional standards. It is important to ask questions around whose standard is put in place and whose interest is represented (Guo & Maitra, 2020).
Changing Professionalism as we know it today demands self-critical interrogations around, your personal relationship with the standards of professionalism, your contributions to these standards of professionalism in your workplace, your actions towards challenging these racialized professionalism standards, and identifying who might be an ally in changing your workplace culture.