THE NEUTRAL ZONE
The United Parcel Service (UPS) relaxed long-standing, strict guidelines in a new internal policy that now allows employees to sport beards and natural Black hairstyles like Afros, braids, locs, twists and knots. UPS will also eliminate gender-specific rules and allow their employees to wear “businesslike” piercings. Gender-specific rules typically applied to the length of uniform shorts, which had to previously hit the middle of the thigh and 3 inches above the knee.
The shifts in policy come after UPS hired its first female Chief Executive Carol Tomé earlier in 2020, who has since implemented unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion training. The company stated, “These changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public.” Overall, these new guidelines will apply to over 500,000 employees at UPS, with a focus on public-facing roles.
In previous years, UPS has faced backlash and legal action for its strict policies on employee presentation. In 2018, UPS was fined $4.9 million in a class religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC claimed that UPS had failed to hire or advance workers whose religious practices conflicted with its policies across its facilities in the U.S.
Following a year of protests against systemic racism and police brutality, many companies have focused on weeding out discriminatory practices, policies and branding to focus on diversity and inclusion. Other U.S. companies have also altered their policies to include natural Black hairstyles, including Hyatt and OneUnited Bank. Dominique Apollon, vice president for research at Race Forward, spoke to the New York Times and said companies like UPS can promote the message that “white standards of beauty and white comfort are ultimately the default,” and that they “need to acknowledge that these sorts of policies have had long-term effects, and will continue to have ramifications or racial outcomes unless more is done.”
UPS Finally Arrives at 21st Century, Will Allow Workers to Have Facial Hair and Natural Black Hairstyles – The Glow Up – 11/12/2020
In one of those “Wait, you mean they didn’t do that 50 years ago?” news items, UPS has announced its workers can finally have facial hair and wear their hair in a number of hairstyles. For Black folks, this means afros, braids, and other protective styles can finally be worn with the iconic brown uniform.
UPS has decided to stop policing how its workers wear their hair – Insider – 11/12/2020
The United Parcel Service has decided to stop policing Black hair. The company, which previously held strict rules that forbade most delivery drivers from wearing Afros, braids, and beards (as well as other rules around long hair on males), has loosened them in an effort to be more inclusive.
UPS Workers Are Finally Allowed to Have Natural Hair – The Cut – 11/12/2020
After decades, UPS workers can freely don beards and natural hairstyles. Previously, the company banned Afros, braids, visible tattoos, beards, and mustaches larger than the crease of the lip. The Wall Street Journal reports that Afros, braids, curls, coils, locs, twists, and knots are now explicitly allowed, along with facial hair that’s worn in a “business-like manner” and doesn’t cause safety concerns. A gender-specific dress code was also dropped.
UPS ends ban on beards and natural Black hairstyles – CNN – 11/11/2020
UPS is getting hairier — and more inclusive. The shipping company is lifting several of its longstanding strict rules on the personal appearance of its employees who interact with the public — mostly its army of delivery drivers. The changes loosen the previous strict limits on facial hair (no beards for most employees, and mustaches limited to above the crease of the lip), how long men could wear their hair (nothing longer than collar length) and hairstyles (no Afros or braids).