Can Your Hair Prevent You From Succeeding in Business?

The debate over natural or processed hair in the workplace continues

(Image: ThinkStock)

Much ado is made about Black hair. Black women are known to be audacious when it comes to our manes. A billion dollar business has been spawned from our need to color, straighten, curl, braid, and coif. Hair means a lot to Black women, but it can mean even more to your career.

Your appearance does not affect your ability to do a job, but it does impact your success. Keeping it cute can influence your salary as much as your work experience. Research shows that attractive people earn an average of 3% to 4% more than a person with below average looks—that comes out to about $230,000 over a lifetime. Even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an unattractive worker.

Hair goes beyond aesthetics. It is personal and public: visible to everyone while also being an intrinsic part of our body. Black women carry a great deal of culture in their hair. Since that culture is not a mainstream one, appropriating hair to the workplace can be a tricky process.

For some time, many—including Black women—considered anything outside of straightened hair to be unprofessional. However, as more women go natural, that notion is changing. Professional hair isn’t about texture. For most employers, particularly conservative ones, a professional hairstyle is considered neat, clean, and out of the face. Texture alone is not a deciding factor.

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  • melodee

    Thank You BE for finally admitting that it is okay to have “natural” hair as long as it is neat, clean, and out of the face. I have been avoiding your website and I have been a huge advocate against the purchase of your material due to previous notions from your sponsors stating that having “locs” or natural hair is inappropriate for the work place for Black Americans. In my experience, it has been Black Americans who have been so against having natural hair. I get more “flack” from us than anyone else. What is comical, is if you look at television, there are more “natural” haired black female actresses than those having straight hair. So yes the times are changing and time is being more acceptable for the diversity. DIVERSITY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS and yes having a professional appearance has a lot to do with it. So because of this article that you have posted, you may have a positive advocate from now on.

  • Edcarlos

    Ok, I definitely supprot people who wear their hair natural. I tried to wear it natural but I have a lot of hair and the only way I could wear it and have it look nice is if I cut it (my beautician told me this) but I love my hair so I could never do it. Plus, it’s a lot of work since my hair is really thick and it’s long My mom wears her hair natural and it’s beautiful and looks amazing on her. But I hate when people say to wear it any other way but natural is self-hating and it’s unnatural. So are white people who bleach their hair and curl it or straighten it everyday self-hating ? Or the term only apply to girls who wear weaves or perm their hair?i meant to say, it’s, well, unnatural Isn’t it unnatural for white girls to alter the look of their hair, too?White girls wear weaves too what do you call those clip-on things? That’s not real hair.A lot of white actresses wear weaves too!WINTER BLOSSOM you are the same girl who said that you don’t like when black women wear weaves because it’s unnatural so my question for you is why do you care about how black women wear their hair?yeah sunshine same here!

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