‘Do Right

You could be the most talented person in your company but, if you show up with braids half done like Ja Rule back in the day, you could lose your colleagues’ respect before you utter a single word.

While it’s true that ethnic hairstyles have become more prevalent in the workplace, many industries still adhere to a conservative dress code, which may or may not allow for certain hairstyles.

Six Flags, for example, has had at least two incidents involving their employees’ hair. In April, a 23-year-old Maryland woman was told that her locks were considered an “extreme hairstyle,” which disqualified her from employment; and back in 2006, they relayed the same message to at least two braided teen applicants.

For those companies and industries that are more progressive, natural hair and styles such as braids and dreadlocks are all appropriate, just be mindful of the way you wear them.

Neatness is the key. And this is not limited to people with locks, braids, or puff-puffs. We know you’ve seen plenty of people with microwave ponytails, wretched lace fronts, and cheap weaves, not to mention lots of kitchens, buckshots, and lopsided line ups.

Styles like these cause minds to wander away from what you’re talking about to a place of “where in the…?” instead of staying focused on what you’ve got to say.

Now, we’re not saying that the only way to be successful in the workplace is to go and shave all your hair off like Jermaine Dupri, although going braidless did do wonders for him, but we do want you to be conscious of the environment you work in and the way you present yourself in that environment.

No matter how you wear your hair, make sure it gives you a finished, polished look.

If you’re rocking braids, be sure to keep them looking neat and fresh. Nobody will be paying attention to your presentation if the shadow from the fuzz of your braids blocks out the PowerPoint slide on the screen. Fellas, keep them lined up around the edges, too.

As for the designs, let your homegirl try her new braiding skills over the weekend.

Similar things can be said for locks, long and short, in the workplace. If you keep them nicely styled and conservatively colored (guess that means the colors of your favorite World Cup team are out), your hair will compliment your skills, not be a distraction.

Now ladies, we know natural hair can be a touchy subject, as one former Glamour magazine employee found out, but again, it’s all about the appearance. As long as it’s neat and nicely styled, you should be good to go.

For all hairstyles, it’s generally a good idea to keep ornaments and accessories like beads, coils, and Rasta hats out of the workplace.

If someone can hear you coming by the sound of your beads, or starts humming Bob Marley because of your hat, that’s your cue to tone it down.

There are a few exceptions, however, such as conservative headbands and clips, which are generally acceptable in the workplace.

We know. Hair shouldn’t be this complicated; that is, unless you’re a model in the Bronner Bros. Hair Show. But with a few styling tips in mind you, and your hair, will be on your way to corporate success before you know it.