Locs in the workplace….

HAMPTON, Va. – Afros are OK but cornrows and flowing dreadlocks are not for business administration students at Hampton University.

The hair code is part of a strict academic and dress doctrine for combined business administration students at the private, historically black university. The program allows students to receive a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration in five years.

In addition to the hair rules, students must maintain a B average after their sophomore year, heed a conservative dress code, complete two internships and meet regularly with business leaders. “We don’t have problems with Afros,” business Dean Sid Credle said Friday. ”

“We don’t have problems with Afros,” business Dean Sid Credle said Friday. “A nicely tapered Afro – that’s fine.”

Credle said the dress, grooming and behavior rules are intended to prepare students for the starched business world.

“When we look at the top 75 African Americans in corporate America, we don’t see any of them with extreme hairdos,” he said.

With the requirements, “they’ll get very comfortable wearing a suit over a five-year period. When they get into corporate America, the transition will be easier,” Credle said.

Aaron Wells, a junior from Fairfax, put away his earrings when he enrolled. He’s got no complaints.

“It really gives us a very good model of what we should be doing in corporate America,” said Wells, who hopes to pursue a career in finance. “We need to look the part as professionals.”

Credle said only one or two students per year have not complied.

Jack L. Ezzell Jr., the president of Zel Technologies, a defense contractor in Hampton, said different businesses have different standards. Distinctive dress and hairstyles “might be acceptable in, say, advertising or some other medium that’s a bit more informal and creative,” he said.

“But clearly, if you were targeting banking or maybe the military or someplace that’s a lot more rigid, you’ve got to be really cautious in doing that.”

At his company, standards also vary for technicians and people in marketing.

“Where I have someone who is going to potentially meet with the customer,” Ezzell said, “I expect them to look more like the customer would. “I’ve seen dreads and earrings that look good.

“If they are exceptionally bright, I would not turn them off automatically. But I know many of my business associates would.”

At Norfolk Southern Corp., hair and dress matter less than ability, spokeswoman Susan Terpay said. “When we hire new employees,” she said, “we focus on their education, their skills and the unique abilities they can bring.”

Guess the corp world cares more about whats on your head then whats in your head???


5 thoughts on “Locs in the workplace….”

  1. Hello,
    I do believe that it was out of line for your superviser to embarass you like that. that should definitly be addressed, especially if (maybe) she has a history of calling out other employees in a degrading matter. It’s hard to believe that your locs may be look rough just after 2 weeks, make sure that you are taking proper care of them in between reitghtenings– like wrapping them up and taking especially care of your edges.

    About companies having rules for hair…. tough issue. I surely woudln’t want anyone wearing a mohawk at Wall Street, but I don’t know. COmplicated. that’s why you have to be your own boss! I surely wouldn’t allow women to have relaxers and weaves. lol.

    You write about Asians and Whites growing locs. I really disagree with your opinion about this. It is a myth that blacks, or afro-textured people, are the ones who “rightfully” own hte idea of growing locs. Growin g locs is a cross cultural thing, and you will find many people from different ethnic groups, such as Hindus, growing locs for cultural and religious reasons… and they’ve been doing this for centuries. In the USA it is stereotyped as this because of its influence from the Carribeans, but surely locs aren’t a “black” hairstyle. You should look at the wikipedia article about locs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadlocks

    It has a lot of information about the history of locs.


  2. Oh yea! Abe setting blacks free…. that was very likely (i’m not going to say “purely”) a war strategy. The Union would have very much so lost the war (or at least the chances would have increased) if Britain continued to supply war ships (i believe it was) to the South. But because of the tensions in Britain at the time, which was about condeming slavery, Abe flipped the script and made it “seem” that the war was about slavery…. something that Britain surely couldn’t have supported.

    Found a link: http://dturnbull.newsvine.com/_news/2007/12/28/1191149-abraham-lincoln-didnt-care-about-slaves

    In a letter Abe writes:
    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not to either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also so that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.

  3. Im not sure that “locked” was responding to the point of your blog, but here is my two cents…I recently started to loc my hair, I am a black female, and I am currently enrolled in college for network security. I often think about how my hairstyle will effect my job hunt when the time comes. MY strategy is to make the prospective company want to hire me no matter what my hair looks like. I am currently at the top of my class, with the highest grades in all courses that I have taken. If it is too hard to find a job in corporate america, then I will look into starting my own consulting firm. It took me a long time to come to the decision to lock my hair, and im not going to let the mainstream ideologies of what a black female should look like dictate how I choose to wear my hair.

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