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Photography The Masons

The UK’s first Black hair code has launched to protect natural hairstyles

Unilever is the first company to implement the Halo Code in the workplace, championing employees embracing Afro hairstyles

Despite a new holiday – National Crown Day – starting this year, hair discrimination in the US is sadly a big part of Black employees and students’ lives. Here in the UK, the situation is not much better. Earlier in the year, Ruby Williams was awarded a settlement of £8,500 after being repeatedly sent home from school for her natural hair. Unfortunately Williams is not alone with 46 per cent of parents saying their child’s uniform policy penalises Afro hair, according to research publish by De Montfort university. 

To combat this, a group of young Black activists launched the Halo Collective, a group working with schools and workplaces to celebrate natural hairstyles. “Despite hair being a protected racial characteristic under the law, there is a widely held belief that Black hairstyles are inappropriate, unattractive, and unprofessional,” says co-founder Edqina Omokaro. “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.”

To do this, the collective has launched the Halo Code, a guide it is asking schools and workplaces to commit to, to celebrate natural hairstyles, rather than penalising students and employees. The first company to commit to the code is Unilever UK, parent company of Dove. “We believe the individuality of hair should be celebrated, which is why Unilever UK & Ireland is the first company to support and communicate the Halo Code to its people, and believe it is a vital step in the fight to ensure racial justice and racial equity for the next generation,” explains Nikki Comiskey, Dove UKI marketing manager. 

To read more about the Halo Collective, the Halo Code, and how you can get involved, head to the organisation’s website.