The state Senate has passed the Crown Act to prevent discrimination against natural female hairstyles in the workplace.
“Unfortunately, when you have hair that isn’t straight and when you have skin that’s Black or brown, it isn’t simply hair it’s judgment. It is judged,” Rep. Tammy Exum, D-West Hartford, said.
Exum pointed to a Dove study that found 80% of women reported they changed their hair from its natural state to fit into the corporate environment.
“I look at the hair of those around me and just accept it as is. It doesn’t speak to their ability, their competency, their performance or their knowledge. It is simply their hair,” Exum said.
Rep. Patricia Billie Miller said she’s sad that they have to put into a law that a person shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their hair.
“When I graduated from college I realized that I had to straighten my hair because I looked too ethnic if I didn’t straighten my hair and I realized that I would not get hired,” Miller said.
It’s also about culture.
“Our hair tells a story about our life,” Ebony Peterson of E’Selim Hair Salon in New Haven said.
Peterson said hair plays a role in how we feel about ourselves, and how wearing it naturally could negatively impact their livelihood.
“I’m not able to wear my natural hair. I have to walk into the office with my hair in a bun or my hair straight,” Peterson said.
She said that’s not where the focus should be.
“My hair is not a conversation. My hair is who I am. Who I wake up in the morning. Who I am throughout the day,” she added.
The Senate passed the Crown Act 30-0 Monday. Five members were absent and one seat is vacant.
What will this mean for the economy?
“The overall economic impact will be minor,” John Rosen said.
Rosen, an adjunct professor of economics at the University of New Haven, said he’s seen the data and there are a large number of women of color who believe they have been discriminated against based on their hairstyle.
“If they are not hiring on the basis of who can best do the job then eventually they’re out of business anyway,” Rosen said.
The bill will now go to Gov. Ned Lamont.