Affirming Authenticity Conversation Series: Identity-Driven Leadership [at Work]

LOCUS held the second event of our three-part conversation series titled “Affirming Authenticity: Identity-Driven Leadership,” at the Rondo Community Library on Thursday, April 24. This event explored the idea of being a woman of diversity in a professional setting while remaining authentic to oneself. Attendees discussed the desire to be seen for who they are and what they contribute as a person, not solely as a woman or a woman of color.

We were joined at the table by two extraordinary women of diversity: Terra Cole, Executive Director of Heritage Park Neighborhood Association, and Sahra Noor, Director of Community Health and Language Services at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview. Terra and Sahra engaged in open, honest discussion about what identity-driven leadership means to each of them personally, and what it has looked like in their professional lives. Both shared that their upbringings were instrumental in shaping the women they are today and the ways in which they carry themselves in the workplace. Our panel then transitioned into a large group dialogue where all attendees took part in exploring what authenticity means to them in their workplaces. 

Some of the key insights generated during the large-group conversation include:
  • As women of diversity, we are able to bring a different perspective and/or understanding that others may have not considered.
  • Often times, we sit around the table with others who do not look like us, butit is important to embrace your identity in the same fashion that others around you do.
  • Differences between people should always be desired in the professional setting. There have been several studies which support the idea that businesses can be more effective and healthier when there is diversity, whether it is with gender or race.
  • It is important to realize that there will regularly be situations in which we may feel uncomfortable in our professional settings. While there isn’t any doubt that women of diversity face hardships in the workplace, however, it is important to understand we can help to break down these barriers.
  • Be a “good steward,” work hard, and open the door for the next person. We should always be active in opening the door for multicultural spaces and opportunities, because THAT is how we grow individually, and collectively.

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