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Employers: Take note of the CROWN Act as it gains traction

(BUSINESS NEWS) Have you heard of the CROWN Act? Not only is it a potential regulation that businesses should be aware of, it’s about simple common courtesy in the workplace.

CROWN Act

Long standing disparities between what falls within “professional attire and appearance” have often been on the forefront of women’s workplace rights, but the savvy business person knows that is only a fraction of the picture. Have you heard about the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or CROWN Act?

It has been gaining traction across the country with little limelight.

In the US, standard perceptions of professionalism are overwhelmingly defined by caucasian-centric expectations of appearance. It is widely accepted that this harms the opportunities of, well, literally everyone else.

In short, the Act hopes to root out discrimination and glass ceilings artificially imposed by misconceptions around ethnic hairstyles of the African-American and other minority communities in the workforce and educational institutions. It first was introduced in California and has since been passed in some form in 12 other states and many municipalities across the country.

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Minority or marginalized groups are expected to adhere to standards that simply aren’t designed to include them. Many ethnic groups have hair that simply won’t do the things that Caucasian hair does without significant chemical treatment and damaging maintenance. This is sometimes referred to as a “hidden cost of being other” and has come under well deserved scrutiny.

A study conducted by Dove in 2019 concluded that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.

There is also no shortage of evidence that these harsh treatments can cause a myriad of detrimental health effects ranging from chemical burns and hair loss to fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. Talk about yikes!!

If you want to buck the tradition of discriminatory fashion rules in the workplace, here are a few functional tips and misconceptions to keep in mind:

  1. Ethnic hair styles are not a reflection of poor personal hygiene. This is a misconception born of a fundamental lack of understanding of diverse hair texture and what different kinds do naturally. In practice, the opposite is typically true. Styles like scalp braids and locs are protective of coarse hair types and can be interpreted as a sign that an individual invests effort in their personal grooming.
  2. Where applicable, trust people to make their own grooming and attire choices. Frame useful guidelines that meet your business and safety needs rather than detailing out gendered attire and appearance standards.
  3. Where practical, make reading material available to employees on unconscious or implicit biases.

When considering inclusive policies, enabling people to be who they are naturally rather than promoting a culture of conformity is the way to go.

Photo by Candace McDaniel.

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Written By

Rev. Delilah Redfield (she/her) is a queer, neurodivergent nerd with disabilities who spends her time writing, reading, voice acting, and making art when she isn't at her day job saving the environment. She is a career scientist, ordained minister, and cat mom.

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