Fast Company

By Alex Gray

September 21, 2020

“Dove and the CROWN Coalition have accomplished so much over the past year, and as we continue the work to ensure the protection of Black women, children, and men from hair discrimination, a form of racial discrimination,” Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operations officer of beauty and personal care at Unilever North America, said in a press release. “While there’s more work to be done, we must also pause to celebrate our victories along the way.”

Cash, now an executive director of the women’s health nonprofit Sad Girls Club, was excited to learn that the CROWN Act passed last year in New York, where she lives. “This is something that we’ve been dealing with for a long time and something that we should not have ever had to really deal with,” she says. “Our hair is our hair.”

The Joy Collective, a marketing and communications agency, was one of the driving forces of the CROWN Coalition. “We were seeing more and more stories of our beautiful children being sent home from school,” says Kelli Richardson Lawson, CEO and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based agency. “We didn’t realize that it was legal in this country to discriminate against Black people at the time, but once we realized that, we, on behalf of Unilever and the Dove brand, started working on trying to craft something that could really make a change.”

Although the law being passed is an important first step, there is still a long way to go. A recent study by Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, a senior associate dean at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, shows that Black women who wear their natural hair are still heavily discriminated against during the interview process.

Researchers recruited 480 participants of various races to act as recruiters for job candidates. Each participant was given job profiles of Black and white women with varying hairstyles and asked to judge their professionalism. According to the study, Black women with natural hairstyles were seen as “the least professional, least competent, and least likely to be recommended for an interview across all comparison groups.” Rosette’s study also revealed that participants found one Black candidate more professional when she had straight hair rather than her natural hair.

Watch the video here.