Problems in the Workplace for Persons Who Wear Dreadlocks (2023)

By Danielle Smyth Updated June 21, 2022

(Video) Discrimination Against Dreadlocks? | Discrimination in the Workplace

As much as it shouldn't matter, a person's appearance can influence how they're treated at work and even whether they can get a job in the first place. Are dreadlocks acceptable in the workplace? Can you get hired with dreads?

(Video) White Student Assaulted for Appropriating Dreadlocks from Black Culture

If you have dreads, you'll need to know the answer to this and other questions regarding wearing dreadlocks at work, including how to wear dreads for an interview and whether dreads will stop you from getting a job.

Are Dreadlocks Acceptable in the Workplace?

Unfortunately, there is no simple yes or no answer to this question. Specific jobs allow dreadlocks, while other workplaces might have a dreadlock ban that the U.S. courts have determined is acceptable, as the writers at NBC News explain. As a rule of thumb, conservative workplaces are more likely to frown on dreadlocks than others. Dreadlocks in business and finance environments, especially banking institutions, will likely be frowned upon. You may see more engineers with dreadlocks and even more people with dreadlocks in artistic fields.

(Video) Should Black Men Cut Their Dreads For Better Employment?

For an employer to enforce a dreadlock ban, they need to state explicitly that dreadlocks or similar hairstyles are not allowed. If the company establishes a new policy and you wore dreadlocks to work prior, you may be able to keep them.

Sometimes, your employer may have to provide a valid safety reason for banning dreadlocks. That is because successful arguments have been made that dreadlock bans can have racist undertones. It is generally more acceptable to put blanket hygiene rules in place that people with dreadlocks can easily abide by.

(Video) How to Manage Dreadlocks in the Workplace

How to Wear Dreads for an Interview

First impressions matter, and the reality is that some people might make negative assumptions about a person with dreadlocks. There are ways to wear dreadlocks that better your chances of getting hired at a job. At the same time, you don't want to hide who you are since you want to work somewhere you'll feel comfortable and accepted.

As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to wear your dreadlocks pulled back away from your face, and the writers at Career Addict emphasize that you should ensure they're neat and clean. You may also want to balance your clothing to offset your dreadlocks. Choose black and other neutral colors in traditional silhouettes, avoiding anything especially loud or memorable. Conduct yourself as a professional at all times.

(Video) Bieber's dreadlocks: Appropriation or appreciation? - BBC Newsnight

Don't try to hide your dreadlocks underneath a hat, scarf or other head covering. Eventually, you'll almost certainly have to reveal your hairstyle. Moreover, wearing a head covering in an interview may not look good, either.

Dreadlocks in the Workplace: The Bottom Line

Though it would be nice to believe that the current world is a place where a person's appearance doesn't matter, unfortunately, that's not the case. The bottom line is that having dreadlocks in the workplace might have a tangible impact on you and your career. You are probably already familiar with some people's stereotypical and sometimes negative assumptions about individuals with dreadlocks. You may have to work harder to overcome some of those beliefs held by your co-workers. Your resume may also need to be more stand-out to get a job in the first place.

(Video) Can White people have dreadlocks?

In the end, a person's happiness and comfort also matter. Dreadlocks are an easy-to-manage style for many hair types, and some people prefer them for other reasons. By continuing to wear your hairstyle of choice, you can show those around you that a person's appearance has no bearing on their ability to do their job well.


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