Dreadlocks in the Boardroom: Are They Becoming More Acceptable Now?

NewsOne, December 13, 2011

Monique Grissette-Banks is an African-American woman who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder. She has worn her hair in dreadlocks for the past six years and says from personal experience locks are becoming more acceptable in corporate America.

{snip}

“Since I’ve started working here, two other women in my division now wear locks and there’s also a man,” says Grissette-Banks, who wears shoulder-length dreads.

Professional women are embracing their “nappy” hair, “because salons are creating interesting and diverse styles, even if hair is not chemically altered,” says Rosario Schuler, founder of Oh! My Nappy Hair, a trio of salons in L.A, Oakland and Atlanta that specialize in the care, styling and maintenance of natural hair.

“Initially people are just fascinated that their hair can grow but if long manes aren’t well-maintained they get matty,” Schuler says. “But locks are extremely versatile and we can take any straight hairstyle and recreate the style with locks.”

{snip}

It was not so long ago, though, that dreadlocks, like all natural hairstyles, were not considered “corporate” enough.

In 1981, for example, Renee Rogers, a one-time African-American employee of American Airlines, challenged in federal court the airline’s policy of prohibiting employees who had contact with the public from wearing all-braided “cornrow” hairstyles. The judge dismissed her lawsuit in favor of the airline.

Surprisingly, Grissette-Banks says she has experienced little overt disapproval in corporate culture. The majority of negative comments have come from black folks, a tendency that seems prevalent.

In 2006, for instance Black Enterprise magazine raised eyebrows when it forced a summer intern, Mashaun Simon, to cut his locks to retain the internship. During the same year, Hampton University, a well-respected historically black university, also found itself in the spotlight for requiring conservative hairstyles in its business school.

Despite these challenges, Blevins-Richardson says people wear dreadlocks for a variety of reasons ranging from personal empowerment to making an artistic fashion statement. Then there are people who wear locks as a necessity because everything they have done so far has made their hair fall out.

For Grissette-Banks her transition to dreads was a deeply personal experience. She gave up relaxers a decade ago because she was struggling to conceive. “I didn’t know what the problem was so I decided to eliminate all chemicals from my body,” she told theGrio.

After she gave birth to her daughter, maintaining her natural hair became a conscious demonstration of personal ideals. “At the time I was working as a diversity manager and wearing my hair in twists seemed to fit in with my values and lifestyle,” she says.

{snip}

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t care what they do with their hair, but, being the curious sort, I have wondered, how often do you wash hair like that, and do you ever brush it good, and it does look like it would be a haven for lice.

  • Anonymous

    You know, I actually want to see blacks succeeding in leading productive, stable lives and reaching their maximum potential. Unfortunately nothing like that has happened, and what is even more sad is that their own leaders are, like in this case, holding them back.

    No one is going to accept dreadlocks in a professional setting, except for people in make-work type positions like “diversity manager” or something. Would you go to a doctor or a lawyer who has got dreads? No way.

    If blacks want to succeed they need leaders who tell them, repeatedly, that the key to being accepted and to fitting in to pursue the most clean-cut, “neutral” look possible, and also pursue a relaxed, non-menacing body language. The clean-cut look would mean clean-cut “boring” non-athletic-brand clothes that are not baggy, short hair for men, neat hair for women, no dreads. They should also tell black here, pick conventional white names like John and Susan, rather than D’vontavius and L’shanqueekwa.

    Unfortunately their leaders are telling them to do the opposite: push the look as far as possible, go for dreads, go for fancy athletic shoes and baggy pants, and threaten to sue companies who don’t go along with it.

  • Eric

    Surprisingly, Grissette-Banks says she has experienced little overt disapproval in corporate culture. The majority of negative comments have come from black folks, a tendency that seems prevalent.

    She’s surprised that white corporate types wouldn’t dare to call out her wholly unprofessional appearance? White corporate employees are scared of their own shadow in regards to race, with good reason.

  • Anonymous

    Diversity manager in dreadlocks = the new prison warden.

  • Question Diversity

    I don’t think they’re becoming more “acceptable.” I think more and more companies are scared to tell the dreadlockers not to wear dreadlocks, because they’re afraid of lawsuits and whining, and Eric “My People” Holder breathing down their neck.

    Related news about curious hair styles:

    http://goo.gl/RCsSL

  • Son of Abraham

    Dreadlocks are definitely ugly.

    Worse, however, are the Whites who emulate that look and whose hair looks like a tangled, matted rats nest.

  • Rick

    Actually, I don’t see any problem in how a person wears their hair as long as it is well kept.

    I see many fellow White people with punk and other weird hairstyles.

  • Tim in Indiana

    Rick wrote at 8:42 PM on December 14:

    Actually, I don’t see any problem in how a person wears their hair as long as it is well kept.

    I see many fellow White people with punk and other weird hairstyles.

    Yes, but do you see them in corporate boardrooms?

  • Question Diversity

    1 Anonymous:

    I started college just as the internet was in its infancy, and really wasn’t able to answer any question for you. Once I started using the college gym and workout facilities, I noticed in the locker room environment that no black man with dreadlocks or cornrows ever washed his hair in the shower with shampoo. Like you, I was curious about if/how they wash that hair style clean. But I was afraid to ask, because I didn’t want to come off as condescending. Like I said, back in those days, I just couldn’t “Google” it.

    At the end of the academic year, I was back at the high school alma mater to watch the graduation ceremonies of the class behind mine, and a bunch of my own graduating class was there. I asked one of my own class, a black man who I trusted well enough not to think I was being condescending just by asking, (but not well enough with my first born), how they cleaned dreadlocks and cornrows. He told me the dreads have to be washed with one’s fingers strand-by-strand, and cornrows, well, it was a convoluted thing involving specific kinds of hair nets and intricate mixes of shampoo and water, and special small brushes. Point was, he told me, either style takes a long time to wash, so most blacks with dreads or rows only wash their hair once every several days with shampoo.

  • Tim in Indiana

    Yeah, and I should be allowed into any business meeting wearing a tee shirt and cutoffs! Hey, why not? it’s all about personal expression, right?

    Notice how, like most MSM articles, this piece is written in a totally sympathetic way (no quotes from dissenters, for example)?

    Despite these challenges, Blevins-Richardson says people wear dreadlocks for a variety of reasons ranging from personal empowerment to making an artistic fashion statement.

    That’s the whole problem. Those who make the greatest contributions to a corporation are those who are totally committed to empowering the corporation and its customers, not themselves, and their primary concern is certainly not about “personal expression.” This concept of commitment to others rather than oneself is one that most blacks seem totally unable to grasp.

  • Bill R

    Rick, the only way dreadlocks can be had is to keep the hair as dirty and as oily as possible. In other words, as unclean as possible. That workplace probably has lice.

  • Anonymous

    There is an incredible amount of money to be made by simply noticing which companies have, ummm, dreadlocks among those in positions of authority and simply shorting their stock.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t understand the mentality of dreadlocks at all. Jamaica is a very hot and humid place. That is the most inimical hairstyle possible for that type of climate. Totally unsanitary and non-hygenic. Why any white person would have dreadlocks or even cornrows is completely beyond me. Son of Abraham didn’t half say it when he called dreadlocks “a tangled, matted rats nest”.

  • Anonymous

    She is mistaking the silence of whites (and others) as “approval”. Nothing is further from the truth. They are just too reluctant to speak up for fear of being sued, called a “racist” etc. Dreadlocks are an idiotic and profoundly unattractive look.

  • Morgan

    “I see many fellow White people with punk and other weird hairstyles.”

    Yes, but they’re not lawyers. They’re the people who smash “fixins” into your ice cream.

  • Anonymous

    The hair of White people is beautiful. The hair of non-Whites is from dull to ugly.

    Have you noticed that in almost all TV commercials White people have no hair, silly looking hair styles, or unkempt hair?

  • Anonymous

    Keep it going… Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, what kind of hair, clothing, accessories, and behavior will become “acceptable” for the sake of tolerating someone’s or some wacko group’s precious “lifestyle.”

    Groan…..

  • white is right, black is whack

    I’m tired of this immature, entitlement mentality that many people have, not just blacks. Yes, it annoys me when blacks want to look like thugs or dress like thugs, and yet expect to get jobs and be accepted by society. It also annoys me when white rebels sporting heavy metal looks or piercings or tattoos get pissed when I’ve said, “If you look like that, nobody will hire you, especially for a professional job.” If you want to be successful in the business and legal world, have a more grown up appearance.

  • Anonymous

    I think some of these “dreads” are wigs made from Vietnamese women’s hair. Where I work most black women have a handful of different “weaves” that are somehow hooked on to their real hair. Some are quite fancy, and must cost a small fortune. It goes well with their tattoos.

    Occasionally you can’t recognize them because they look so different from week to week. Sometimes they show up “natural,” with their own kinky brillo pad on top of their head, and then you know who the employee really is.

    Agree with the comments about whites who wear dreads. How moronic. But at least you know who to avoid from the get-go.

    Natty Dread ’till next time…

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Monique Grissette-Banks is an African-American woman who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder.

    Forget the dreadlocks — this is the statement that caught my attention.

    Does anyone here believe Mz. Banks “successfully climbed the corporate ladder” without a MASSIVE dose of intimidating affirmative action paving the way for her??

    How many more qualified Whites did she climb over in her ‘success.’

    Success for Whites means getting ahead on one’s own merits through hard work, focus, intelligence and drive — for blacks, success means how many Whites are intimidated and how many black demands for unqualified hiring and promotion are met.

    I’d say they are succeeding quite well.

    Who wouldn’t if he had the force of the government behind him!

    @12:

    There is an incredible amount of money to be made by simply noticing which companies have, ummm, dreadlocks among those in positions of authority and simply shorting their stock.

    Thanks for my laugh for the day!! I’m off to the salt mines.

    Bon

  • Anonymous

    What does it take for Whites to accept Blacks? Our instinct to reject blacks can be overcome when they mimic our appearance by shaving their woolly hair. But the multicults prefer us to accept them as they are which is impossible because by nature blacks and whites cannot coexist without tension.

  • Anonymous

    As a high school teacher, I tell my students that have wierdo piercings, neck and face tattoos, or dreadlocks the following: Your “style” has nothing to do with self-expression in the eyes of the REAL world. Your “style” screams ignorance and disrespect. Disrespect namely for the intelligence of the person who might hire you. If you work for someone, you are a direct reflection of that person’s integrity and professionalism. A direct reflection of the boss’s ability to get the job done or sell product. Bottom line: If you look like an ignorant, no-class Buffoon, you make your boss look the same way in the eyes of the customers. The people the boss depends on to make a living. The boss is NOT going to sacrifice his livelihood to respect your “self-expression.” In other words, “I can’t hire you.”

  • rjp

    “At the time I was working as a diversity manager and wearing my hair in twists seemed to fit in with my values and lifestyle,” she says.

    Diversity manager……. a “make-work” job.

    Monique Grissette-Banks is an African-American woman who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder.

    Successfully climbed the corporate ladder? How? From one racist “make-work” Affirmative Action job to another?

  • Shawn (the female)

    That has got to be the nastiest looking hair in existance – they call them ‘dread’locks for a reason. A close second is the massive piles of cornrows flying out of football players’ helmets, often so long they block the players’ numbers. I often picture the ‘ethnic minority’s face if he woke up one day and someone had whacked it all off during the night.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    If you want to be successful in the business and legal world, have a more grown up appearance.

    –White is right, black is whack

    Not only the business and legal world, the minimum-wage, fast food world as well!

    Corporations like MacDonald’s don’t want their employees sporting tattoos, multiple piercings or dreadlocks either. High school kids have NO idea that the vast majority of businesses, high and low end, are conservative, most very conservative –and have strict dress and grooming standards.

    High school kids? “They should accept me for how I look and what I am!” they tell me. This is because the schools have been forced to relax dress code standards (unfortunately) for students and the curriculum teaches them to “empower” themselves. Anyone who questions this is seen as prejudiced or racist.

    They can’t seem to understand why employers aren’t falling all over themselves to hire uneducated, unskilled, unmannered, slovenly teenagers who have no intention of following anyone’s “rules.”

    Employers often either call the school or ask to see the kid’s report card which tells them everything they need to know. One Subway owner us: “Kids who are late to school are late to work. Kids who screw up at school, screw up at work and I don’t want them in my business.” Can’t say I blame him!!

    Kids can’t figure out why no one will hire them. “Look in a mirror, I tell them, and take notice of how you speak. No one wants four letter words in their business or you texting on your cell phone when you should be helping customers.”

    Their answer? “They’re prejudice, they (employers) should accept me for what I am!”

    Bon

  • Rebelcelt

    I guess it is asking too much to ask that they start their own corp without AA, and then develop their own Company from the ground up.

    No, they want Whites to give them a prestigious job then surrender their own cultures’ standard in favor of their Dreadlock Culture.

    But, why shouldn’t they ….whites are giving them what they want as soon as they ask for it.

  • Anonymous

    Blacks (or anyone else) with their hair in dreadlocks look horrible, and so do middle-aged women with 9 earrings in each ear, and one in their nose and a ring in their lower lip and a stud in their tongue. God knows what else is pierced, I certainly don’t want to find out… Why can’t people of any color at least TRY to look civilized?

  • hts

    #20. Note how she “rose the corporate ladder”. She admits near the end that she worked as a “Diversity Manager”. Her sole purpose in life was to play whack-a-mole with white people’s careers. Obviously she was quite successful in that line of duty.

  • Mike B.

    Funny – I’ve looked in the mirror for decades and have never felt ’empowered’ (itself, a PC newspeak word). If you need to wear dreads to feel ’empowered,’ you obviously don’t feel you have much self-worth – which, of course, leads you to wind up with a position, where you need no IQ, in the multi-billion dollar ‘diversity’ extortion racket.

    And all these hyphenated three-name people (caused by radical feminism) is getting really tired. However, it does serve one useful purpose. Just like having a black name like NuShawn or Shaniqua is helpful in identifying the race of the perps in the thousands of MSM articles where they don’t mention race; so is it the same with hyphenated three-name people. If you see that kind of name, you know they’re a leftist. No traditional conservative couple would do that.

  • Sonya

    Regarding the question of “how do they wash their hair” many blacks supposedly only wash their hair once a week no matter the style because they are prone to dry scalp and dandruff looks particularly nasty with black hair and dark skin.

    I knew a white woman (very eccentric musician) that had dread locks of various colors. I asked her about them, black’s hair will matt on it’s own, whites actually use elmers glue and matt the hair up initially, well that is how she did it, there may be other ways as well.

    Regardless I also asked if she could wash it, she said after a week or so the locks were “set” and after that she washed her hair with regular shampoo every single day just like before she had dreads.

  • Anonymous

    Where I live, there is a steady influx of ex-cons absolutely be-decked with tats. Arm tats are derigeur, chest and back are common but what shocks me are the number of arrows and ‘powerlines’ that run up the neck in these broad bands of sickly pale prison ink. It’s absolutely _impossible_ not to notice these as the first thing you look at in a person.

    By this body art they can all recognize each other, by artist as facility.

    Now one of these gentlemen actually works at the mission as a volunteer in ‘The Program’, trying to improve himself and I happened to overhear him and a buddy talking about these stains one night as the ‘guest’ described the new tat he was planning on adding to the veritable mural he already had.

    The volunteer, who is actually pretty smart or at least starting to learn from his hard lessons, pointed to his face and chin.

    “See this, see these burns? Ten hours with a laser so I can get a real job.”

    The effort at removal was incomplete and so his jaw looked like a cross between severe five o’clock shadow and an army of rodent tracks through bleu cheese.

    The expression on the other guy’s no so brilliant face was one for the album. Stupefied doesn’t come close, cross eyed, somewhere between tears and outraged laughter, he said that his new tat could -only- go in a certain place.

    The PC told him to get used to where he was staying.

    With something along the lines of a “But, but…” the guest asked how he was supposed to get his ‘art’ done and the other guy bluntly said, _nothing above the collar_ and always wear long sleeved shirts or you’ll NEVER get hired. After six months, you can back off on the shirt.

    Junior looked at him like he’d been hit by lightning. You mean THIS is why he hadn’t been able to pull down that stunning 15-20 dollar an hour job he’d spent 20 hours learning in the pen?*

    The shelter security guy looked at me and all’s I could do was shake my head and walk away.

    Point Being: We can’t help the other races. We shouldn’t try to judge them so much as live apart, within our own ethnic communities. By our own rules. And there is something _seriously_ messed up with our own culture when even the dumbest among us doesn’t recognize that THERE ARE RULES to how we do things to maintain that separation if not eliteness.

    And if you live beyond the pale of them, there are consequences.

    *(It should be noted that, that all parolees have to make a nightly call to their POs and most of them have to describe their day’s job search in detail. It’s a real depressing event to have a potential employer say no and another guy listen to you repeat the experience and then tell you to try harder. Knowing that if you violate, you’re going back to kill your time.)

  • Anonymous

    I had a sleep study tech–black–with neck tats as well as arm tats, and gross hair. I was kind of scared to go to sleep. Really. I just felt vulnerable. I wondered about the kind of hospital that would hire someone who looked like that…whitish suburb of Baltimore, very liberal Martin O’Malley country….

  • Question Diversity

    31 Anonymous:

    This is what is amusing about all these cities, soon to be states, soon to be Federal, policies about not asking if a job applicant has a felony conviction record on the initial job application. When they show up to an interview full of prison tats, or full of the removal procedure, that will be a dead giveaway. As it is, even in those cities, the employers can still ask about a felony sheet during the interview, in case the tats are lost on them.

    Whether one wants to believe that the Old Testament was divinely inspired, or the collective written wisdom and mores of a particular group of ancient people without any divine inspiration or imperative, or even whether this particular moral commandment is still “relevant” from a spiritual perspective in the New Testament era, whoever thought to tell the Ancient “People of the Old Testament” not to get tattoos knew what they were doing. The most tattoos my immediate male relatives have, and only a few do, are American flag and Eagle at most. The kind of person who would get that many tattoos and those kind of tattoos must be a weak soul to begin with.

  • Cracker_Slayah

    Little history lesson for whitey, the hair style comes directly from the so called “Mau Mau” bush fighters from the Kenyan “emergency” in the 1950’s, which was almost like an old fashioned “Settlers Vs Indians” war in that country with the Brits acting like the Cavalry etc.

  • Marc B

    I don’t see an issue with well-maintained and clean corn rows on a black woman in a professional setting, but dreads are awful on either a man or women, and unsuitable for anybody job other than manual labor. There were so many rich, white kids with dreadlocks (but no job) in Boulder, CO in the 1990’s that they were referred to as Trustafarians. I wonder about the comfort of dreads in a subtropical climate, but even more are the thick wool caps they wear over them in Summer heat. I too want a stable population of employed, diligent blacks but their ascendancy does not require altering long-standing dress codes.

  • Dog Star

    Little history lesson for whitey, the hair style comes directly from the so called “Mau Mau” bush fighters from the Kenyan “emergency” in the 1950’s, which was almost like an old fashioned “Settlers Vs Indians” war in that country with the Brits acting like the Cavalry etc

    Don’t care and never will.

    The Brits are long gone from Africa in case you haven’t noticed and slavery is long over in white countries (but not in black countries).

    You do understand, do you not, that it was the British who put an end to the black slave trade? You do understand that it was African blacks and Arabs who sold “your people” to slavers, many of whom were not whites?

    For your further “little” history lesson for blacks, read up on William Wilberforce, a white British politician who fought successfully to end the slave trade.

    http://goo.gl/miGOI

    You don’t get it yet that the white man was the best friend blacks ever had. But you will. And soon.

  • Anonymous

    Reply to #34: (I refuse to say your screen name).

    Just to bring you up to speed buddy, but the British are long gone from Kenya. The blacks there have it all to themselves and can do whatever they want and create any society they so desire. Which doesn’t seem to be much of anything since Kenya is just another black African basketcase of a country.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting. One of the supposed central themes of rastafarianism which is associated with dreadlocks is repatriation to Africa. But all Jamaicans ever do is invite themselves to white countries like Canada and the U.K.