Hair Matters: Toward Understanding Natural Black Hair Bias in the Workplace

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Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies


Using an inductive qualitative approach, this study examined natural Black hair bias in the workplace. An analysis of 274 comments posted to online discussion boards revealed that some Black women are embracing natural hairstyles, but many feel pressured to conform to Eurocentric hairstyles and some have experienced negative consequences stemming from their natural hairstyle choices. Within the comments, three major themes, namely,(1) hair bias, (2) identity (including self-concept and identity transition), and (3) conformity, as well as five minor themes, were identified. Based on the qualitative analysis, we identified labeling theory, identity theories (self-concept and identity transition), and the facades of conformity theory as relevant and useful in guiding future research. The key themes were integrated into a model to provide a more comprehensive story of hair bias experiences that may be useful in guiding future research.



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