In an effort to end the daily discrimination, microaggressions and overall policing of Black hair, Dove, along with the National Urban League, Color of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty, has founded the CROWN coalition.

The coalition sponsored SB 188, the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, in California. Introduced by Senator Holly J. Mitchell, the act recently passed the State Senate and is on track to be reviewed by the State Assembly. If SB 188 passes, the bill will ensure that traits historically associated with race, like hair texture and style, are protected from discrimination not only in the workplace but also in K–12 public and charter schools.

This move comes on the heels of new guidelines released by the New York Commission on Human Rights that deem the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle to be racial discrimination—indicating that more progress than ever is being made when it comes to safeguarding Black hair.

Esi Eggleston Bracey, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of beauty and personal care at Unilever, delivered a moving detailing of CROWN and its goals at a briefing held on April 30 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

She revealed that research conducted as a part of the initiative confirms what we already know: In schools and the workplace, Black people are disproportionately affected by bias when it comes to their hair.

The study found that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to have reported having been sent home or know of a Black woman who had been sent home from the workplace because of her hair; we report receiving formal grooming policies at a rate significantly higher than White women; and we are 80 percent more likely to change our natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.

Eggleston Bracey spoke to ESSENCE about embracing her hair in the corporate space and how it allowed her to contribute more.

“You learn from school what’s professional and acceptable, and what you’re learning is how to conform. So I went into corporate America with the standard of conformity,” Eggleston shares. “When I decided I was going to be me in the workplace, I experienced more joy, more contribution and better results because I was committed to extending myself into the workplace. So imagine how many people are using up energy worrying about their hair?”

So how can you make a change? Eggleston says it’s all about making small impacts in our communities: “Champion the change. Take the data back to your organization and ensure that it is a respectful, open workplace for natural hair.”

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