Being Black in Corporate America

If you are someone who changes your name to your nickname or goes by your middle name because your first name is too “complicated” or “ethnic”, this blog is for you. I am here to challenge you to stay true to your name, on and off applications. Every part of who you are matters in the workplace. Times are changing, but it seems as if mindsets are not.

Dominque Devaroy Moore. My mother named me after a character on a television series. Diahann Carroll played Dominique Devereaux in the show Dynasty and was my mother’s favorite character because of her pristine and grace. Thinking about my friends and family, their names also have interesting stories. MyAsia, Shekinah, Niaisha, and ShaQuan are all standard names where I come from, but how many people with ethnic names work at your job? Why is it that more ethnic-sounding names weaken your chances at a job? Why is it that an ethnic name –a name that was curated for me and who I would become– breeds discrimination?

Racial based discrimination and bias are unfortunately engrained in our society. There is extensive evidence of biased discrimination because of name in corporate America. This is even bigger than corporate America because as I wrote the names above in Microsoft Word, I continuously saw red squiggles because Black names are incorrect. As a Black student, you may feel the need to whiten your job application by switching your name or excluding your involvement in Black organizations on your resume. You may even want to skip checking the box asking for your race or ethnicity. However, if you do these things, you might end up with a company that may not value you and your Blackness.

It is not easy for me to say forget these companies and find jobs that truly value you and everything about you. You must do what you have to in order to survive, however, you are not alone in this battle. It may seem as if cards are stacked against you being Black and having an ethnic name, but there are resources made to help you navigate companies that value Black people. Here are some next steps to finding a job that will accept your Black name and you as a person.

  1. Look to see if the company has a diversity statement.
  2. If there is a list of employees, scroll through it to see who you can find.
  3. If you do find Black employees, do not hesitate to ask them about their experiences with the company so far.
  4. When taking on a new job, find your community, a community that understands you, that feels like family.
  5. After the year of 2020, see what the company said about Black Lives Matter, if anything at all.

Although this list is not comprehensive, it is a start to navigating Corporate America as a Black person. Remember that you are not alone in this battle, and there are companies willing to accept and appreciate you.

Photo by nappy from Pexels

By Dominque Moore
Dominque Moore Graduate Assistant: Career Development Dominque Moore