The UK’s first Black ‘Hair Code’ has been launched by young activists in hopes to prevent discrimination against people with afro-textured hair in schools and the workplace.
The ‘Halo Code’ – launched by the Halo Collective – is a campaign pledge which can be signed by schools and businesses as a promise to Black employees and students that they have the “freedom and security to wear all afro-hairstyles without restriction or judgment”.
Since the Equalities Act became law in 2010, it was made illegal for people to show bias against anyone with hairstyles associated with their race, ethnicity and cultural identities.
However, a recent survey by the Halo Collective revealed one in five Black women still feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work, with more than half of Black students experiencing name calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school.
“Despite hair being a protected racial characteristic under the law, there is a widely held belief that black hairstyles are inappropriate, unattractive, and unprofessional,” co-founder Edqina Omokaro said when speaking to The Guardian.
“No one should have to change their natural or protective hairstyle in order to thrive. Together, we will ensure that all black people can learn, work, and live free from hair discrimination.”
One of the UK’s biggest employers, Unilever – the manufacturer which makes Dove soap and Magnum ice-cream – has become the first company to adopt the Halo Code, describing it as a “vital step” in the fight against racial injustice
Richard Sharp, HR vice-president of Unilever UK & Ireland, told BBC Newsbeat: “We know it’s really important for people to be able to be themselves in the workplace.
“We believe the individuality of hair should be celebrated, which is why we are supporting and communicating the Halo Code to our people, and believe it is a vital step in the fight to ensure racial justice and racial equity for the next generation.”