Our post about dreadlocks and mutable characteristics drew further comments worth publishing:

Tasha Robinson, an HR manager in the Atlanta area:

“This is an interesting case. I just read about the recently released grooming guidelines within one of the armed forces and how there is a petition because the new guidelines prohibit certain hairstyles that several black women have been accustomed to wearing.  It makes you wonder who makes the decision about what is appropriate and/or professional. For me it’s like someone telling me I have to wear a suit to work … why.  My performance doesn’t change if I’m dressed business or business casual … or if I wear jeans on Friday.

Very interesting to see if these hairstyle policies eventually do change.”

James Nash, an arbitrator in the Omaha area:

16043737_m“Yes, Tasha, policies on hair styles – along with other policies – will change. I recall entering the workforce in 1964. During that era, the dress code policy required that I shave-off my very short, well-kept, trimmed mustache and beard. That was during the period in which bearded black males with afros were looked at with suspicion.  Braids – for males and females – were either discouraged or forbidden, for reasons not related to competency or to what lay between their ears.  Women could not wear pants; during employment interviews that involved travel, women were asked how their husbands felt about the prospect of their being on the road with a male associate; if similarly qualified candidates – one a man and the other a woman – were in competition for a vacant position, it was, naturally, assumed that the man would get the nod.  That was especially true if the position involved travel.

It is not surprising, now, to see news correspondents, college professors, or corporate execs with braids. A friend of mine and – until recently – a high ranking official for IBM (possibly, the most conservative corporation on the planet) wore braids.  IBM was among the first corporations to offer benefits to same sex couples

Things do change over time, Tasha, but there is no magical element in time that creates change. Time is neutral and change could, just as easily, move in either direction. It is people who work hard and tirelessly for change – even with the knowledge that change, if it comes, at all, will come too late for them. Those of us who have been around long enough are aware that – although, diminishing in number – there remains a large segment of the population who is heavily invested in the status quo, and who works just as tirelessly to keep things exactly as they are.”