Even though natural and textured hair industries are on the rise, it seems the workplace is refusing to catch on – even across the pond. London-based luxury retailer Harrods is coming under fire for telling a Black woman applying for a job that she would need to relax her hair in order to get hired.
According to the Telegraph, Nicola Thorp, who is White, brought the issue to light during a Parliamentary committee hearing on gender discrimination in the workplace. She told the Petitions and Women and Equalities committees that a woman being interviewed by the retailer was told to chemically straighten because her natural state was unprofessional.
In one of the interview sessions that I attended, the woman who held the interview [on behalf of Harrods]…would go around the room and say, ‘You need a makeover, you need a makeover, you’re fine, you need a makeover.’
She pointed to a black girl who was being interviewed and said ‘You can’t work for me unless you have your hair chemically relaxed, because your hair, as it is, is not professional enough.’ We just sat there and nodded and agreed because we needed the job.
The hearing was part of a full review on workplace dress codes and disparities women throughout the UK are faced with, including being required to wear high heels, revealing dresses and makeup.
Harrods has not yet responded to the Telegraph’s request for comments. However, a spokeswoman for the agency Nicola reference denies the allegations. “No one would be asked to chemically straighten the hair. It isn’t company policy and it never has been.”