Dove Launches New CROWN UK Fund to Help End Hair Discrimination

Dove spearheads new initiatives in fight to end hair discrimination in the UK by bolstering the Dove Self-Esteem Project through the launch of the CROWN UK Fund

Dove strengthens its efforts to end hair discrimination in the UK, bolstering the Dove Self-Esteem Project to provide support to schools to tackle the issue and through the launch of a new CROWN UK Fund (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) of £170,000 to help combat hair bias.

Despite race-based bias being made illegal under the UK Equalities Act in 2010, hair discrimination remains an issue:

  • 63% of Black adults have experienced hair discrimination as a result of wearing their hair naturally or in a protective style 
  • Over a third of Black adults have experienced discrimination to their hair at work and a quarter (25%) have been sent home from work for wearing their hair naturally
  • Children as young as 11 have experienced hair discrimination at school with over half (51%) having been sent home for wearing their hair naturally  

CROWN UK Fund
63% of Black adults have experienced hair discrimination as a result of wearing their hair naturally or in a protective style

To ensure that no-one experiences racism, discrimination or unfair consequences for choosing to wear their hair naturally at work or school, Dove has become the first brand to support the Halo Collective, led by The Advocacy Academy, to champion the Halo Code within the workplace and help to end hair discrimination for good. As part of this initiative, Unilever is supporting the new Halo Code to protect its employees from race-based hair bias. Dove (and Unilever) will also actively encourage its network of suppliers, retailers and organisations to adopt the new Halo Code to raise awareness of the issue and to help end the stigma in order to ensure no-one experiences prejudice as a result of their hair.

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Dove is also looking to help affect change in schools – where hair discrimination is a real problem, with children as young as 11 having experienced it. Sadly, more than half (51%) of those between 11 and 17 years old said they had been sent home from school for wearing their hair naturally. This has a big impact on children’s self-esteem, causing over half (52%) to change or alter the appearance of their hair in order to conform to what are considered ‘normal’ standards of beauty, while a further 58% of children have wished they had a different hair type.

To counter this, Dove developed a workshop via the Dove Self-Esteem Project to support teachers in discussions about hair discrimination, in an effort to bring an end to hair discrimination in schools. The programme, which has been developed in association with educators and experts, will provide guidance and downloadable resources for teachers looking to run workshops to educate children about this issue. The resources will be available from February 2021 with an aim to touch over 35,000 lives within one year.

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Academic, author and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri said “The issue of hair discrimination has always been important, yet as a form of racism, it is all too often overlooked. Following the Black Lives Matter movement, it is more important than ever to shine a light on this subtle form of discrimination that can be hidden under out-dated, and prejudiced, ideas of ‘professionalism’. I want to see an end to Black children being sent home from school for wearing their natural afro hair, I want to see that a Black person with braids would be deemed just as professional as the next person. I want to see an end to all hair discrimination.”

Firdaous El Honsali, global communications director at Dove said: “The initiatives we’re announcing today are a continuation of Dove’s longstanding efforts to contest harmful beauty standards. Dove is proud to be a co-founder of the CROWN Coalition and champion of the CROWN Act, which has passed in seven states across the US over the past year, as well as supporting the Channel 4 documentary, Hair Power: Me and My Afro which shed light on the huge impact that hair discrimination can have on real people. We believe that everyone should feel beautiful in their natural hair and are taking action to ensure that we end race-based hair bias and discrimination.”

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Building from her own experiences of hair discrimination Zina Alfa, founder of Ub Hair said: “Natural and protective hairstyles including afros, braids and locs are traditional ways to express our heritage and simply have our hair. It is because this is not understood that young children are subjected to being punished by teachers or bullied by peers. When we’re not attacked, we also experience people that see our hair, touch it, and grab it without permission – making us uncomfortable. It’s not OK for people to be targeted because of their hair.”

The Halo Collective commented: “We’re thrilled that Dove is one of the first supporters of our campaign to end hair discrimination in the UK and we welcome the changes and initiatives that the brand is supporting. It is our belief that it will take organisations and activists working together to shine a spotlight on the injustice of hair inequality and create real and lasting change.”

Emma Dabiri and Zina Alfa have both created petitions to make hair discrimination illegal under the UK Equalities Act – something that Dove fully supports and champions. To help drive change, please add your signature here: https://www.change.org/t/end-hair-discrimination-en-gb.

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