Pour décrocher un entretien d’embauche, les cheveux au naturel seraient un frein

Pour décrocher un entretien d’embauche, les cheveux au naturel seraient un frein

DISCRIMINATION – “Hair is not just hair.” This is according to this study, carried out by the Fuqua Business School of Duke University in the United States, which will appear on August 19 in the journal  Social Psychological and Personality Science . She reveals that black women who leave their hair natural are less likely to land a job interview.

Perceived as “less professional than black women with straight hair”, they are particularly affected in professions where appearance, essential, is said to be “conservative”.

In France, black women are also victims of discrimination in hiring. Even if they are graduates, they “do not escape inferiorization on the French job market: ‘Being a woman, daughter of immigrants, black: triple discrimination!’, Writes researcher Carmen Diop in the journal.  Men & Migrations  in 2011. These characteristics reactivate social inequalities and keep them away from valued sectors. They must use specific strategies to successfully enter the company. ”

Prejudices that are found before hiring

Since the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, many companies are now focusing « on tactics to eradicate racism at systemic and structural levels, » reports Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, the business professor who conducted the research, in the Duke University press release.

However, “our individual prejudices often precede racist practices that develop and become normalized within organizations”. In France, a comparable study has not been carried out. However, people “who report being seen as black say they are more often discriminated against because of their skin color” in access to employment, details the Defender of Rights in 2016. (…) People who consider having had only one experience of discrimination are few, especially among people who say they are seen as (…) black (7%). ”

And in the United States, this study proves the differentiation of black women. The researchers hired several hundred participants, according to  CNN , with different skin colors, to play the role of recruiters. They then gave them profiles of black and white women, to rate based on their professionalism, skills, and other factors.

The norm is “the physical appearance of white people”

The result is clear: black women with natural hairstyles received ratings for their professionalism and lower skills than the other candidates. They are less recommended than their competitors, black women with straight hair and white women with straight or curly hair.

For Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, the explanation is relatively simple. “In many Western societies, whites have historically been the dominant social group, and therefore the standard for professional appearance is often based on the physical appearance of whites. For women’s hair, this benchmark is to have straight hair. ”

This finding also applies to black women in competition, depending on their hairstyle. When two groups of recruiters had to assess the application of the same black woman, one with a photo with straight hair, the other in which she had curly hair, the result was striking. The first group considered the candidate more professional than the second.

Understand the difference

Ashleigh Shelby Rosette recalls that hair straightening products can have hair and scalp health consequences, and cost a fortune. “When a black woman chooses to straighten her hair, it should be a personal choice”, not dictated by the norms of society.

The goal of this study is not to push black women to straighten their hair, but rather to « ask people to understand that the difference exists, » the researcher told  CNN . Because today, it is very easy for a recruiter, if he does not have a photo on a CV, to find one on the Internet and the various social networks.


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