02.18.2020Inside Verizon

These V Teamers are proud of their hair!

By: Sravya Gajjala

A conversation about black hair and bringing your authentic self to work sparked V Teamers to share their own stories. 

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Friday’s ‘Proud of My Hair’ conversation about the issues of authenticity and hair inspired many V Teamers across the company to share their stories. Check it out and catch the replay below.

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See their stories:

Constance Hawkins

""I'm so happy to work for an organization that embraces diversity and welcomes authenticity in the work-space. One of the beautiful things about this moment when I met Hans, was seeing a variety of natural hair in the audience. Locks, twist-outs, afro's and more. There was a time when I'd pull my hair back after rockin an afro over the weekend. One day I decided to just show up as me. My afro fluffed out, my traditional African jewelry and a genuine smile. I'm proud of my hair. Thank you for all involved in this awesome film. #inclusion #YayVerizon!!!

 

Maraa Ester

""I LOVED IT! The story was very authentic and I loved how the featured leaders shared old photos through time. The real stories made me think about my own family and seeing how hairstyle trends have changed over the years. One thing that has remained constant over the years is the idea that "natural hair" isn't "professional hair:" I think this topic is so important as we talk about bringing our true selves to work, and feeling confident and comfortable in our own skin.

I've had several conversations with friends who wouldn't get braids or wear their hair naturally because they didn't want to feel judged or not taken seriously. This should never be the case! We should all feel free to wear styles that represent our culture and who we are.

Also, I think this is super important in society at large. Children are being told they can’t participate in school activities and graduations because of hair discrimination. It’s important that we educate those inside and outside of our own communities on why we should all rally behind supporting an inclusive environment.

 

Belinda Harris

""Can we talk about growth?! When I first decided to go natural (unpermed) I had no idea how to make my TWA look “professional.” At the time, hair like mine was viewed as unkempt, messy and unprofessional.

I was still an engineer at the time in the upper echelons of North Jersey meeting with real estate developers, construction foreman - you name it.

Most of them were not expecting to see me 1.) a black 2.) female engineer 3.) with natural hair. Those were some of the most difficult years of my career trying to build relationships and forge respect in a place where I was not expected to be.

 

Natalie Sanchez

""My appearance and how I carry myself is something that I have always taken great pride in. Growing up my mother relaxed my hair and I was never fully comfortable with wearing my natural hair. When entering into the workforce as an adult, I never wore my hair natural because of the stigma that black women are at a disadvantage pertaining to jobs when they wear their hair natural. As an Afro-Latina woman it is important to exemplify a professional yet unapologetic appearance. My hair has allowed me to stand out amongst the crowd and be unique while representing young women as future leaders within corporate environments. At Verizon, I am able to be my true authentic self while showing up as ‘Me’ every single day! Looking good is synonymous with feeling good to me. Comfortable in my own skin, I exude confidence and embrace my appearance. I truly believe that inclusivity and individualism are vital topics to consider when moving forward in the workplace today.

 

Krystal Escoffery

Krystal EscofferyIt’s 2005 and my little legs are swaying back and forth on a cushioned chair. As I think to myself, “One day, they will reach the bottom”, my scalp starts to tingle. The tingle turns into a slight burning sensation. What looks like whipped frosting, smothers my coils; suffocating the original composition of my hair. This concoction, penetrating my eleven-year-old scalp, is a chemical relaxer.

Flash forward to 2020, my strands are naturally sprouting from my head and proudly free from any chemical manipulation.

My hair is curly, coily, and most of all free. I wear my hair as more than just a style. Fifteen years later, it’s me finally embracing a part of me that I tried to mute for years; my identity as a black woman.

There are a lot of reasons why I feel I am able to sport my curls as confidently as I do in Corporate America. These reasons include conversation, leadership, and progression.

Some people have a lot of discomfort with others being authentic in the workplace, which stems from a lack of knowledge or awareness. So how do we combat this?

Discourse.

We are finally having these meaningful conversations thanks to Verizon, a company I am very proud to work for.

Last Friday, the “Proud of My Hair” segment on Yahoo’s BUILD Series served as an awesome opportunity to discuss and understand the historical and cultural context behind it. Although this topic is very relevant to many women and men of color, it serves as an educational piece for the broader community.

While watching, I learned that enslaved African mothers weaved rice grains into their children’s hair to make sure they would have food to eat in case they were taken away.

Personally, this gives me an added appreciation for my hair as this served as an act of livelihood to generations before me. Our hair is worthy of honor and does not need to be manipulated by heat or chemicals to fit any beauty standards or corporate expectations.

Next, there are leaders at Verizon embracing who they are. It seems as though they are taking an espresso shot of authenticity every morning and showing up.

In the “Proud of My Hair” conversation, it is mentioned that leaders like Hans Vestberg and Diego Scotti’s low key style have opened doors for others to dress in a way that suits them.

At the end of the day, as long as you’re delivering results with integrity does it matter if you’re wearing a t-shirt or even if your hair is in its natural state?

 

Jennifer Harris

""I recently pulled off my wig, did the Big Chop and embraced my natural hair. I wasn't really sure how it would be received at work and honestly I had some anxiety about what others might say and think. However, the reality is that I am showing up more authentically... which allows me to be and bring the best version of myself to work. My anxiety and apprehension was without merit as I work for a company and with people who value who I am and not how I look. Thanks Verizon for being a place where diversity and inclusion matters and is celebrated!

 

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Tune into the inspiring and informational conversation:

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About the author(s): 

Sravya is a member of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular host of Up To Speed. She is an avid movie lover and a gadget freak.

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