Purpose – The idea of being authentic at work is gaining traction in both academia and organizations. The purpose of this paper is to test whether four types of perceived organizational culture (hierarchical, clan, market, and adhocracy) influence employees’ authenticity and whether behaving more authentically at work influences the extent to which employees are engaged with their jobs. Design/methodology/approach – The sample includes 208 professionals working in a variety of industries in Brazil. Hypotheses are tested using structural equation modeling. Findings – Results indicate that environments that are perceived to be more inclusive and participative, and that incentivize autonomy (i.e. clan and adhocracy cultures) neither nurture nor inhibit authenticity. On the other hand, cultures perceived to emphasize stability, order, and control (i.e. hierarchy and market cultures) are negatively related to authenticity. In addition, employees who behave more authentically at work are more engaged with their jobs. Authenticity at work also mediates the relationship between hierarchical and market cultures and work engagement. Originality/value – The authors address the call of Roberts et al. (2009) for more research associated with the role that the organizational context plays in the development of authenticity. With the focus on authenticity the authors broaden the range of work engagement antecedents already discussed in the literature (Christian et al., 2011).