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As an HR Professional and African American woman focusing on Recruitment, Title VII resonates with me the most. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] is a federal employment law prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; however, Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Several issues during the employee life cycle can occur from the attraction to the separation stage—specifically, hair. Hair is among the top issues African Americans face, most notably women. In addition to Title VII, states may create laws such as the CROWN Act to protect employees.

The hiring process is the most challenging of an employee’s life cycle. This challenge starts when a potential candidate is job searching, which seems easy, but it’s not. Employers want the best qualified and believe the best comes from a particular college or university. This thought process also affects candidates with unique names. For employers to attract candidates from specific colleges, the recruiter uses verbiage in job descriptions or by direction of the hiring manager requesting Ivy League or Predominately White Institution (PWI) candidates, excluding lesser-known colleges (including community colleges) and HBCUs[1]. This can be intentional or unintentional, leaving out a large, diverse talent pool. Another issue is that the candidates’ names can be challenging; recruiters or hiring managers can decline them based on their names, even if they are legal citizens. Because of this blocker, candidates often use a white-sounding name on their resume. African American hair can be considered unprofessional, which makes one undesirable in the eyes of some employers. During the interview, African American women tend to put extra thought into their appearance; hair is one core racial feature that may determine whether the candidate is hired. As Title VII is explored further, it poses the question, is Title VII regarding race relevant to today’s workforce? Is it justifiable to not hire someone due to their hair texture or style?

[1] See Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e - 2000e17

[1] Historical Black College and Universities

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