The Omega XI Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Inc. and FAMU Campus Curlz held a “Professional and Natural” panel discussion Thursday regarding natural hair in the workplace.
African-American women have been transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair as they embrace their natural coarse and unique texture.
Natural hair can be defined as hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers. It is often viewed as unruly and unprofessional.
African-American women spend an excessive amount of time and thousands of dollars on their appearance so that they can fit into the unspoken Eurocentric beauty standards.
“For older generations, confirming to the standards of beauty was a way of survival,” said Kyla Luke, an MBA candidate.
African-Americans are losing their jobs as a result of wearing their natural hair. Hairstyles such as dreadlocks have been banned during the hiring process by the federal courts; making it legal for employers to refuse to hire someone because of their dreadlocks.
“I applied for a job and had my natural hair when I went to pick up the application. I never received a callback. I went a couple of months later to pick up an application when I had on a wig and received an interview on the spot,” said Tiffani Zackery, an MBA candidate.
There is a lack of diversity in the workplace, specifically in higher positions. Many women feel as though their natural hair is not work-appropriate unless pulled back into a bun.
The discrimination toward natural hair has spread from the workplace to schools. Young girls are being suspended for wearing their natural hair in braids or out in an afro.
The panelists consisted of members of Alpha Kappa Psi and Campus Curlz who have had various experiences in their respective industries.
The participants at the discussion expressed their thoughts and experiences with natural hair.
Many agreed that they would not want to change their hair in order to receive a position. They also agreed to wanting to work at a company that is progressive and accepting of how they decide to style their hair.
“Once I graduate, I want to work in an inclusive environment. I don’t want to feel like I have to change the way I wear my hair to work with a company. My hair is a part of who I am,” said Mekayla Lewis, a senior business administration major.