Personnel managers are being urged to stop the prejudice against some hair styles.
Campaigners at The Halo Collective have launched the ‘Halo Code’ to stop HR managers from discriminating against black women who go to work sporting their natural hair.
They claim that one in five black women feel pressure to straighten their hair at work while over half of black students experience name calling or have uncomfortable questions about or due to their hair.
Halo Collective co-founder, 21-year-old Edwina Omokaro, says that hair styles have been used to hold people back in their careers and suspend pupils from school.
She says: “We’ve heard heart-breaking stories of Black people humiliated at work because our hair was deemed unprofessional, unruly, unkempt, a distraction to others.
“That’s why we are working with employers and professional bodies to support them to adopt the Halo Code, the UK’s first Black Hair code.”
Multinationals, Dove, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever, have signed up for the code. Richard Sharp, vice president for HR at Unilever UK & Ireland, said: “We believe the individuality of hair should be celebrated, which is why we are supporting and communicating the Halo Code to our people, and believe it is a vital step in the fight to ensure racial justice and racial equity for the next generation.”
The code calls on workplaces to:
- – champion the right of staff to embrace Afro hairstyles,
- – celebrate hair styles including afros, lots, twists, braids, cornrows, fades, wigs, and wraps, and
- – embrace equality so that hair styles have no impact on an employee’s ability to succeed.
Employment lawyers advise clients that to treat an employee less favourably because of afro hair is likely to amount to direct discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
The Collective also points out that hair styles are protected under the Equality Act 2010.
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