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Study Highlights ‘The Costs of Code-Switching’ in the Workplace

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“Code-switching,” a term for adapting one’s style of speech, appearance or behavior to gain acceptance and make others feel more comfortable, is one of the core dilemmas black employees face at work. That’s according to a study published last month in the Harvard Business Review that looked at the experiences of black college-educated employees in the United States. While code-switching is often seen as necessary for professional advancement, the study finds there’s great psychological cost to those who feel they can’t truly be themselves at work. We’ll talk to the study’s lead author about the findings and what organizations can do to foster more inclusive workplaces. And we want to hear from you: do you code-switch at work? What’s been your experience?


Courtney McCluney, lead author, "The Costs of Code-Switching" study; post-doctoral fellow, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Élida Bautista, director of inclusion & diversity, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business