Mother's LinkedIn headshot spurs discussion over workplace norms during COVID-19 pandemic

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. -- A North Carolina mother of three's work-from-home headshot LinkedIn post has gone viral, spurring a discussion about workplace norms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lauren Griffiths, who works in human resources, opted to change her profile picture on the site, writing a lengthy post behind her decision to do so:

Why I Changed my LinkedIn Profile Pic

Recently, I took a long hard look at my LinkedIn profile photo - the woman staring back at me had newly highlighted hair and a fresh cut, a pressed blazer, a hint of a smile that showed just the right amount of teeth to let you know she was serious but could be lighthearted when needed. I remember standing in my power pose as my husband snapped the photos. We poured through about 80 shots before we found the one that looked perfectly polished. But the person I was exuding then is not always who I am, and certainly, not who I am right now.

Today's remote world has blurred the lines between my professional and personal selves, so I've chosen to represent that in my photo. Barely dried hair, comfy pullover, ripped jeans - slightly frazzled from having just gotten 3 kids ready for "school" - but smiling and ready for work.

I've witnessed and read enough on authentic leadership to know that being genuine and vulnerable will get you a lot farther in your career than a glossy headshot.

Griffiths told our sister station WTVD-TV that she wanted to convey a powerful, driven and capable persona in posting her original headshot. She also admitted that she tried to conform to the LinkedIn norm.

"But with age, with pandemic, with all of these things happening in your life, it turns out that that stuff's not important, and everyone needs to do what's best for them," she said.

As of Thursday, her post was viewed 23 million times and garnered more than a half-million reactions and more than 17,500 comments. The social media post gaining enough traction to get the attention of "Good Morning America."

"Watching something that you've created and something that you represent go viral in this way is surreal," Griffiths said.

While she was surprised by the widespread reaction, Griffiths shared why it connected with users: "I think many people feel the same way. And that's one of the comments I've received repeatedly."

More importantly, Griffiths is hoping the post and its reaction spurs a larger discussion about professional standards.

"It's not about me. It's about who makes the rules and what those rules should be. And I'm so grateful that we're debating this. We're challenging the norms, we're asking the right questions. All the good questions - what does it even mean to be professional? Are there different standards for different genders and ethnicities? I don't have the answers, but what I'm encouraging people to do via this post is to ask those questions. I challenge everyone to have these courageous conversations with their teams and their leaders and their companies," she said.
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