Can Having Natural Hair Hurt A Black Woman's Career?

Can Your Hair Prevent You From Succeeding in Business?

(Image: ThinkStock)
(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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