October 19, 2021

It's okay to be "unprofessional"

"'Professional' is a racist, sexist, ableist standard." Simone Grace Seol
"Emotion in business is unprofessional."
"Black women's natural hair is unprofessional."
"Tattoos are unprofessional."
"Facial hair is unprofessional."
"Poor grammar/spelling is unprofessional."

And for speakers (I've actually heard these):

"Flat shoes are unprofessional."
"Curly hair is unprofessional."
"Showing bare arms is unprofessional."
"Not wearing makeup is unprofessional."
"Saying 'um' is unprofessional."
"Sitting down while presenting is unprofessional."

Oftentimes, we're told our appearance is unprofessional if we don't meet gender norms or dominant cultural norms.

Other times, not living up to certain educational or other social norms peg us as "unprofessional."

There are definitely things I would call out as unprofessional in business:

👎🏼 Lack of respect for colleagues or customers
👎🏼 Consistently showing up late
👎🏼 Being unresponsive to emails or phone calls
👎🏼 Taking credit for others' work
👎🏼 Lying

But I will fight you over the lists above. 🥊 (If you want to argue with me about spelling and grammar, Google "literacy privilege.")

And I will keep serving my clients with alternating pink and gray hair, five-inch long earrings, visible tattoo, and flat shoes.

Because these things have nothing to do with how well I do my job and everything to do with me being a fulfilled, aligned, and happy human being.

As Madison Butler 🏳️‍🌈🦄 (one of my favorite DEI advocates on LinkedIn) says: "I'm not for everyone." 😉

What have you heard is "unprofessional" in business that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!

(You can also comment on or like the original LinkedIn post here. It's currently at 404 reactions, 131 comments, 20+ shares, and 14,866 views in the feed.)

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