Natural Hair Discrimination in the Workplace

Out of 50 U.S. states only 20 have legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against a person due to their natural hair at workplaces, schools, and public spaces such as pools. That means over half of the country can legally dismiss someone from their position and reject applicants for their natural hair. Learn how natural hair discrimination impacts women of color, and what you can do as an ally below. 

Recent Discrimination

Disney’s Ariel 2022

Halle Bailey’s appearance in the latest Disney Teaser Trailer for Ariel stirred up bigoted backlash. While many on Twitter used #NotMyAriel, many Black mothers shared recordings of their children overjoyed at the newest princess looking just like them. 

Glamour Spring 2020 Edition

In spring 2020, four Black women celebrities, Gabrielle Union, Uzo Aduba, Marsai Martin, and Keke Palmer, came together for a  PSA video on natural hair discrimination in America for Glamours Our Hair Issue. The issue highlighted six different women of color who experienced natural hair discrimination in the workplace and schools. You can read the issue here.

Recent Research


In 2020, Assistant Professor of Management at Michigan State University, Christy Zhou Koval, and co-author Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, the senior associate dean and management professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, conducted research on Natural Hair discrimination in job recruitment. Their paper was published in Social Psychology and Personal Science and found that Black women with natural hairstyles were thought to be less professional and received fewer recommendations.

Read their findings here.


We all know the classical white oval bar with the dove imprint on it, but did you know Dove sponsors a coalition for natural hair? In 2019, Dove created the CROWN Act and Coalition with State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California to extend legal protection for women of color against discrimination on race-based hairstyles in workplaces and schools. CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. The brand also has researched hair-based discrimination extensively. 

Dove statistics:

  • 45% of Black girls experience hair discrimination in school
  • 86% of Black teens who experienced hair discrimination said it started as early as twelve
  • Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace due to their natural hair
  • 80% of Black women feel they have to change their natural hair to fit in the workplace

The Crown Act

The latest status for the CROWN Act is that it did not pass the Senate vote in December 2022, but was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2022. If you want to help advocate for it to become federal legislation, you can find email templates and a petition on the CROWN Coalition website. 

How to support

Every action you take and every penny you give goes into supporting women of color. But it takes a consistent and conscious effort to make a big change. No one is the perfect ally and we are all learning how to dismantle our unconscious bias and reconfigure spaces to be designed for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


  • Self-educate through books, podcasts, webinars, etc. 
  • Volunteer
  • Donate
  • Talk to local legislators
  • Confront biased corporate policies


  • Create more equitable hiring processes
  • Remove specifically detailed hairstyles in grooming policies 
  • Implement detailed and consistent bias training 
  • Sponsor black-owned businesses 
  • Establish mentor programs and support groups for women of color

The International Association of Women partners with world-class organizations to offer our members access to incredible resources and support. Just as our members build skills through shared knowledge, IAW works with its partners to develop lasting relationships. If you are interested in supporting women’s growth globally, then partner with the IAW at