Hair discrimination rampant for Black women: survey

Dove and LinkedIn partner up in new campaign to raise awareness

Hair discrimination rampant for Black women: survey

They say your hair is your crowning glory, but it can also stir up mixed emotions, especially among Black women, according to a recent report.

Overall, Black women's hair is 2.5x more likely than White and Hispanic counterparts to be perceived as unprofessional, and many have had to change it up to feel they belong, reports Dove.

Two in three (66 per cent) Black women change their hair for a job interview, and 41 per cent among them changed their hair from curly to straight. 

Black women are 54% more likely to feel like they have to wear their hair straight to a job interview to be successful. Nearly half (44 per cent) of Black women under age 34 feel pressured to have a headshot with straight hair.

"For far too long, Black women and men have been subject to unfair treatment, outright discrimination and a myriad of inequities for simply wearing our natural hair texture and hair styles that are inherent to our cultural identity. This includes being denied employment, being sent home from work, being overlooked for promotions, and a range of micro-aggressions,” says Esi Eggleston Bracey, President & CEO of Unilever Personal Care in North America. “This may be hard to believe, but it is real, clearly unwarranted, and unacceptable,”

In 2019, New York City started considering the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle at work as racial discrimination.


Hair discrimination among Black women is no myth. Black women with coily/textured hair are 2x as likely to experience microaggressions in the workplace than Black women with straighter hair, finds Dove’s survey of 2,990 female identifying respondents in the US aged 25-64, conducted between December 2022 and January 2023.

And over 20 per cent of Black women 25-34 have been sent home from work because of their hair.

A quarter (25 per cent) of Black women believe they have been denied a job interview because of their hair, which is even higher for Black women under 34 (one in three).

When it comes to the top challenge for DEI initiatives, business leaders who “fail to take ownership for driving DEI outcomes” comes out on top, according to a previous report.


In 2019, Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, created the CROWN Act. The legislation looks to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.

Now, looking to put an end to this type of discrimination, Dove has partnered with LinkedIn on a series of actions.

Together, the two employers will:

  • provide free access to 10 LinkedIn Learning courses focused on creating a more equitable and inclusive work environment, with a goal to educate 1 million hiring managers and workplace professionals by the end of 2023
  • reveal the real and measurable adverse impact hair discrimination continues to have on Black women in the workplace through the CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study
  • elevate and celebrate the real stories and voices of Black women professionals across LinkedIn and social media platforms using #BlackHairIsProfessional to help redefine what society deems "professional" at work.

While talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. Cultural identifiers, like hair, are not determining factors for someone's skills or experience, and no one should be denied employment opportunities or professional advancement because of their hair," says Rosanna Durruthy, global vice president of diversity, inclusion and belonging at LinkedIn. 

"As Dove works to change legislation, LinkedIn is working to change workplace behavior by training and educating one million hiring managers and human resources professionals on inclusive and equitable business practices. The mission of ending race-based hair discrimination is critically important to our own desire to make work, work better for everyone."

Previously, the matter of grey hair and ageism came into focus with the dismissal of Lisa LaFlamme, who was the chief anchor and senior editor of CTV National News.

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