Natural Hair and Corporate America: Are They Finally Co-Existing?

Natural Hair and Corporate America: Are They Finally Co-Existing?

More and more professional women of color are opting to rock various forms of their natural coils. Inevitably questions of being accepted on the job will eventually surface. This is something I found myself facing three years ago, when I made the decision to go natural. My mind went into overdrive. How will management perceive me? Would future job opportunities be ruined? 

Despite my lingering thoughts, I still took the leap. I honestly did not feel I had any other choice. Perms had taken a devastating toil on my hair, in particularly my scalp. I also was tired of the whole weave routine. The majority of the negative remarks came from family and friends. Comments such as: “You know so and so just had to cut their Locs in order to get that job.” “No one will hire you if you want to change employers with Locs.” As people of color, it has been sadly etched in our psyches; that, if we embrace our natural hair, in turn you must forget about making it in corporate America. For the most part, this is no longer the case. 

At the time I made my natural hair leap, I was fortunate my employer recently hired a manager who was a woman of color that had been natural for many years. We often discussed the ups and downs of working in a professional office setting with natural hair. The best two pieces of advice she offered me was always be confident and keep your hair well groomed. 

Confidence is key. Sometimes the energy we give off can be our own downfall. Even though there are various natural hair styles, choosing a more polished variation is important. Many of the corporations who are changing their viewpoints still expect for their employees to look polished and presentable. Since the attitude of many corporate decision makers is slowly changing, I would not chance free forming locs and unkempt curls within corporate America. While I personally feel all styles are beautiful in their own right, many of corporate America’s management still consists of people who have European standards of beauty and frankly nine times out of ten will not understand. 

If you have been on the fence about going natural, now is the time to get off! Things are changing for men and women who embrace their coils in its natural state. Understand that there are still boundaries and do your homework on what is acceptable on your job. While the general acceptance is slowly turning, progress can be seen and it’s not only in corporate America. With the recent military revisions on acceptable natural hair styles, I am confident more and more corporations will also come into the light in 2015. 

Find other people you can rely on as a support system in your office, office building, or community that are already natural. I am sure they will be happy to share any tips or advice they have learned along the way. I also would utilize social media. Following other natural men and women who are working professionals not only helps with style ideas, but will keep you uplifted on your journey. 

Naturally Nia


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