While the issue of hair discrimination has recently received national and international attention with the passing of the CROWN Act in California (and a few other states in the US) and the HALO code campaign in the UK, awareness of the stigma that permeates society’s perception of what is “acceptable,” “professional” or “proper standards” relating to Black hair dates back to the 1700s.
To kick off Black History Month in the US, this global panel discussion will center on addressing the stigmas that carry over into the legal profession around the notions of what an “ideal” lawyer should look like and the mental and physical toll they take on Black professionals.
- Lekia Lée, former broadcast journalist and speaker on inclusion, representation and the psychological impact of narrow beauty standards and other related topics.
Lekia has appeared on the BBC and ITV, as well as in Huffington Post, Washington Post, Stylist and Glamour magazine, among many others. Lekia is also the founder of Project Embrace, whose aim is to encourage a more positive language for girls of African descent to associate with their identity and looks.
- Natalie Norfus, lawyer turned CEO of The Norfus Firm.
Natalie is a creative and proven problem solver with over 15 years of experience counseling employers on diversity and HR strategies, compliance, and litigation. Natalie has worked with global employers in various industries, including quick services restaurants, manufacturing, financial services and healthcare. Natalie firmly believes that there is no “one size fits all” approach to HR and diversity strategies. Having come from a diverse upbringing and worked with employers across the globe, Natalie draws on her varied experiences to customize strategies that are unique to an organization.
“There’s a story and a meaning behind Black hair. From hot combs to flat irons to relaxers to braids, my hair has often been at the center of many decisions I make. The same is true for my teenage son who is a professional actor and has been on countless sets where the hairstylist is not able to style his hair. Bringing awareness to the ways in which hair can exclude people of color from various professional settings is critical to deepening our perspectives on creating truly inclusive workplaces.”
- Caren Street, Principal, Washington DC
Caren is a seasoned Capitol Hill counsel with almost 14 years of bipartisan, bicameral and leadership experience. She joined the firm in May 2021 after serving as Chief of Staff to Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) where she was chief strategist for the member’s legislative priorities, including bills related to policing reform, re-entry services, local hiring initiatives and State Department diversification.
"Accepting natural Black hairstyles represents a true commitment to diversity and inclusion by stamping out all forms of discrimination, including hair discrimination."
- Jonathan Chibafa, Director – Barrister, London
Jonathan Chibafa specialises in global investigations, financial crime, compliance and risk management. Jonathan is a highly regarded anti-bribery and corruption risk specialist. As hair discrimination is an area of personal interest to him, Jonathan will be moderating this discussion.
- Keshinda Gage, Associate, London
Keshinda Gage advises both employers and trustees of UK defined benefit, defined contributions and death benefits pension schemes. Keshinda is a key influencer in the firm’s Multicultural network and will bring her personal experiences of hair discrimination to the discussion.
We hope you can join us for this interesting look at hair discrimination in the workplace and considerations for inclusive employers.