UPS has lifted a number of restrictions regarding the appearance of its employees, including facial hair guidelines and a ban on natural Black hairstyles, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The company will no longer prohibit its employees from having afros or braids, or from having beards. Previously, the company did not allow employees to have any facial hair besides a small mustache, while male employees also were not permitted to have hair long enough to go back their collar. UPS has cautioned that employees must still have business-appropriate hair that does not pose a safety concern, however.
The announcement also came with the news that gender-specific regulations would be removed, such as the length of the uniform's shorts. "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," the company said in a statement. UPS added that it is "determined to continue to make UPS a great place to work for all of our more than 5000,000 employees around the world."
The decision was led by Carol Tomé, the company's CEO. "Our CEO, Carol Tomé, listened to feedback from employees and heard that changes in this area would make them more likely to recommend UPS as an employer," the company added. Tomé also recently said in a conference call that UPS has increased its employee training, which will cover how to combat unconscious bias and promote diversity.
Back in 2018, UPS agreed to pay a $4.9 million fine and entered into a decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after it received criticism for its policies on employer's hair. "These policies are hold-overs from a different era and reflect the biases that hold back progress, and performance," said Lucinda Duncalfe, founder of Above Board. "It never made sense that 'natural' hair was impermissible," she added, calling the change "great news."