I am an “Afro-Trinidadian” and I have chosen to wear my hair in well maintained “locks” for the last seven years. In February of this year I decided to explore a career opportunity as a flight attendant with Caribbean Airlines. I met the necessary criteria but sadly this never became a reality because “locks do not comply with the grooming standards and image the company wishes to portray.” You possibly will not find this statement in a manual or any written document, only on the discriminatory lips of the perpetrators of this belief system within this organisation.
At my first interview I was advised that the length of my hair, not the hairstyle, would be a potential safety issue. I was satisfied with the explanation given and after doing my own research I was prepared to make the necessary length adjustments. The panelists on my second interview asked if I was willing to cut my hair off and at this point I started to suspect that the hairstyle was not favourable. I asked plainly if this was the case and more safety reasons were fed to me. None of which warranted the removal of all my hair and I was told that the choice was mine. They did not insist that I cut my hair and I did not commit to do so either.
After the second interview I advanced to the Training Level which commenced in May; however, on day two, management approached me with a deadline to get rid of my locks, implying that this was a determining factor in my progress from this stage. At this time, inches of my hair were cut off and meticulously styled in accordance with the guidelines given and the grooming standards in their manual. I challenged them on the issue and it boiled down to being that I did not meet their skewed, incomplete image of the Caribbean that the brand supposedly represents.
My time and money amongst other resources were invested in this endeavour but I write this letter not for any recompense or pity but to shed light on Caribbean Airlines, a company that claims equal opportunity while fostering policies that are discriminatory by their very nature. It is my sincere hope that these blatant practices of injustice would discontinue. I did not want this job enough to sell out on the pride of my identity, hence I resigned, but it has come to my attention that many others in my position usually do.