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The Halo Code Is Introduced to Prevent Hair Discrimination in the UK

by charlottegw / last updated January 19, 2021

halo code hair discrimination

In a step to end hair discrimination in the UK, the Halo Code guarantees black people in both schools and workplaces the freedom and security to wear their hair as they want, without restriction, judgement or, ultimately, discrimination.

Created by the Halo Collective, a group of 30 young black people who have experienced the racial bias that having Afro hair can bring, it’s a positive move to ending discrimination.

Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the the Equalities Act became law in 2010.

Speaking to vogue.co.uk, Olamide Taiwo, a member of the Halo Collective says: “The expectations for Black hair are completely different [to those with other hair types], despite the Equality Act that was passed in 2010.

“There are unspoken, discriminatory rules against Black hair in workplaces and schools. Some of these rules are explicitly stated, while others are implied through actions and words.”

Members of the collective shared their experience of hair discrimination. After dying her hair blonde, Olamid recounts her new hair being met with disapproval, despite the shade being a ‘natural hair colour’ as per her school’s guidelines.

She says: “I also remember one teacher commenting on how I changed my hair styles, implying that it was a bad thing. That bothered me because I see my hair as a form of expression.”

In fact, 46 per cent of parents say their children’s school uniform policy penalises Afro hair while one in five Black women feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work, according to The Halo Collective.

The hair industry’s reaction the Halo Code

“I do think that more than ever things are beginning to move more in the direction of salons becoming aware that they need to make their staff skilled in all aspects of hairdressing which includes being able to do Afro hair. It is no longer acceptable to not, as there is so much available in the way of education. Hopefully we can move forward and all salons and hairdressers can continue to grow and develop and be as inclusive as possible, therefore making the client feel as welcome as possible everywhere they go.”
Cimone Cheveux, curl expert
“It’s great that the Halo Code has been created – but it’s also sad that it’s taken a group of young people to get Afro hair and textured hair recognised. As hairdressers, we should be able to work with all forms of hair – long, textured, coily or short – and if it’s a skill you don’t possess, there’s a number of courses and online training that you can undertake. A client should be able to walk into any salon to get any haircut or style, regardless of texture, length or density.”
Martin Crean, MODE Hair, Chipping Campden
“This is an important step to ensuring our industry is diverse and highly skilled in all areas of hair and scalp care. No one should feel discriminated because of their hair texture and it’s great to see more and more TV presenters and celebrities embracing their natural texture and paving the path for other young people to feel comfortable about the way they wear their hair. Now, as an industry, we have to ensure they feel comfortable visiting the salon to get their hair done, rather than having to do it themselves at home or seek out a specialist.”
Marcello Moccia, Room 97 Creative, Leeds and Wakefield

How you can get involved

As a workplace, you can choose to adopt the Halo Code here, and if you’re a student or parent you can adopt the code here.

Unilever UK, which is Dove’s parent company, is the first employer to adopt the code, which demonstrates its commitment to diversity in the workplace and is good news for a beauty industry that still has a way to go in the inclusion stakes.

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