Welcome to Kinky Talk!
Let’s discuss natural hair in Corporate America which is predominately straight haired and white.
1. As an African-American woman or man, is wearing your natural hair an issue in Corporate America?
Personally, I believe African-Americans have to prove themselves twice over than their white counterparts regardless of hair style or texture. The addition of wearing our natural hair only makes this task more difficult. Unfortunately, natural hair can be viewed by Corporate America as untidy or unsightly. When you are perceived as untidy, people also assume you are this way with your work. I have personally worn a straight haired wig to an interview because I did not want to be judged by the texture of my hair. Let’s be honest, Corporate America is a white man and he can not relate to the natural haired African-American woman or man. Image you are a well educated African-American man up against a white counterpart with similar backgrounds and are overlooked simply because you have dreads and the other candidate has straight wisps of blonde or black hair. It’s unfair, but it’s reality. Natural hair is not easily accepted by Corporate America but it can be overlooked if we allow our qualifications to make a statement in the workplace instead of our hair.
2. How can African-Americans rise above the natural hair perception in Corporate America without sacrificing our hair?
I have always believed that in order to win the game you must learn the rules. The first rule is get the job without being judged by your appearance. As a woman, I suggest wearing a wig so that your hair is no longer a focal point for the interviewer and your qualifications are what’s discussed and remembered. Another suggestion would be to wear a style that pulls the hair back or tucked away. As a man, if you have dreads, I suggest wearing your hair pulled back and neatly trimmed. Maybe even wearing a head scarf for “personal reasons”. Most likely they will assume religious reasons and won’t think twice about it. The second rule is prove your worth without falling into the typical stereotypes of African-Americans. Now that you have the job you can wear your natural hair in the workplace but neatly. Show up to work not only on time, but early. Go above and beyond in your work by anticipating the wants and needs of your boss. Be assertive in your career goals, let your boss know that you value your job and are looking for more challenging opportunities. Make sure you document your accomplishments along the way so that you can defend your position for a well-deserved promotion. At this point, they will almost ( I do mean, almost) ignore your hair and focus on your accomplishments. There are a few things I have been told while working for fortune 500 companies in their corporate offices that I will never forget and “Perception is reality” is at the top. If you control the perception of self, you control the reality.
3. How do you deal with blatant racism regarding your natural hair?
Honestly, file a formal complaint. You will most likely be “laid off” but make sure you get a CHECK! You wouldn’t want to work for that company anyway.
What are some of your thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear your feedback.