Recent data shows that Black women’s hair is 2.5 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional. (Credit: Mikhail Nilov, Pexels)

From hiring practices to workplace interactions, racist hair discrimination affects countless Black workplace professionals — particularly women — on a daily basis. 

According to data from the 2023 CROWN Workplace Research Study, Black women’s hair is 2.5 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional — a disparity that frequently leads to Black women being ostracized from professional advancement and career opportunities.

As part of its commitment to ending hair discrimination in the workplace, beauty giant Dove is partnering with professional social media platform LinkedIn to promote a #BlackHairIsProfessional campaign. The goal is to redefine what hairstyles are considered work-appropriate. Through the hashtag #BlackHairIsProfessional, Black women will have a space to share stories about their hair and how it has been perceived in the workplace. 

“For far too long, Black women and men have been subject to unfair treatment, outright discrimination and a myriad of inequities for simply wearing our natural hair texture and hair styles that are inherent to our cultural identity,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, president and CEO of Unilever Personal Care in North America, in a statement.

Hair discrimination can manifest as microaggressions in the office, being overlooked for jobs and promotions and being flagged by human resources for dress-code violations. To educate hiring managers and workplace professionals on what hair discrimination looks like, LinkedIn will provide all users free access to a suite of 10 LinkedIn Learning courses that support a more equitable work environment. By the end of 2023, the platform aims to have educated 1 million users.

Another key part of the campaign is to spread awareness of the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), a California law which makes it illegal to discriminate based on hair style and hair texture. Passed in 2019, it was the first legislation passed at the state level to prohibit such discrimination. 

Although 20 states and 30 cities have adopted similar statutes since then, the #BlackHairIsProfessional campaign seeks to end hair discrimination nationwide. By spreading awareness of the CROWN Act across online platforms and encouraging petition signatures, the campaign aims to aid in its passage. 

Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition in 2019 alongside several nonprofits, including the National Urban League, Color of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty to advance the CROWN Act and similar legislation.

“While talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not,” said Rosanna Durruthy, Global Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at LinkedIn. “Cultural identifiers, like hair, are not determining factors for someone’s skills or experience, and no one should be denied employment opportunities or professional advancement because of their hair.”