Career Advice

My Natural Hair in Corporate America

Without fail, every day, I take a moment in the morning and make sure my nappy hair is ready for the work day.

Please excuse me if you find the word “nappy” uncomfortable or offensive. I don’t intend to offend anyone. However, my hair is happily nappy, thick, curly and kinky. I am so thankful and grateful that I work with highly intelligent people that embrace and love my hairdo. 

To some folks, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. For me, someone that has been treated adversely because of my natural blackness, acceptance of my natural hair at work is huge. I love feeling comfortable and not worrying about my supervisor staring at my tightly coiled curls.

When I started my job in December 2013, I straightened my hair every day.

Ain’t nobody got time.

I wanted to make sure I was “appropriate” for the office. Millennials in corporate America are well-aware of our age, seniority and position in the workplace (because countless articles and baby boomers remind us daily). As a young woman of color, in corporate America, working in New York City, I wanted to put my best foot forward and set myself up for success. After two months, I was over it. I didn’t have time to do that every morning, and it was hard on my thick hair. So what was I to do?

Coming to work with my big hair would already make me stand out. Wearing a weave was out because I’ve stopped paying hundred of dollars for hair. Don’t have time for that either. I didn’t want to approach my supervisor and risk turning a non-issue into an issue. 

So what to do?!

I asked my homegirls at work. They told me to be free. I did and everyone loved it. Now, I don’t know if that will work in everyone’s office but I do have a couple tips for you to consider:

1. What is your company’s culture? Since having the come-to-Jesus moment with my homegirls, I decided that I’m comfortable straightening my hair if I ever have to interview for a job or become client-facing. I believe client interaction warrants changing your hair because you are now representing your company. Is your company culture business-professional? Or casual? Look around and talk to your peers. 

2. Is your hair distracting? My hair is big and nappy and I LOVE it. We sit in cubicles so my hair doesn’t block anyone’s view- I’m good. Now, if I were to dye it purple, people might turn their heads when I walk by. Just like you wouldn’t wear a super tight pencil skirt with a donkey booty, you probably shouldn’t wear your Cassie-shaved-on-the-side to the board meeting. If you’re in San Francisco, at one of those cool millennial-run tech companies, DO IT!

3. Is it cute? No shade but make sure your hair is on point. There is no specific style you have to rock in the workplace. I’d be hypocrite if I said your hair has to be bone-straight; but I do think your hair should be like your outfit- on point and super cute 🙂

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