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UPS lifts ban on natural Black hairstyles

UPS employees can now wear braids and afros.

UPS Getty Images

United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is lifting several of its strict rules when it comes to personal appearance in an effort to become more inclusive.

On Wednesday (Nov. 11), the shipping company announced that their employees can now wear beards, natural hairstyles, such as braids and afros, and men can wear their hair longer than collar length.

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,” UPS said in a statement. They added that they are “determined to continue to make UPS a great place to work for all of our more than 500,000 employees around the world.”

Wednesday’s notice also included the removal of many gender-specific regulations, such as the ruling on the length of their uniform shorts.

UPS CEO Carol Tomé recently told investors on a conference call that the company has also increased its employee training “to ensure our actions match our values.” Employees have received training on unconscious bias and how to promote diversity and inclusion.

Back in 2018, UPS paid a $4.9 million fine and entered a consent law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to grant freedom to employees who wear long hair and beards — if they filed for a religious exemption.

“UPS failed to hire or promote individuals whose religious practices conflict with its appearance policy and failed to provide religious accommodations,” the EEOC said at the time. They also said “UPS segregated employees who maintained beards or long hair in accordance with their religious beliefs into non-supervisory, back-of-the-facility positions without customer contact.”

Almost 300,000 UPS employees are represented by the Teamsters Union who released a statement following Wednesday’s announcement. “We are very pleased about it,” Teamsters said. “The union contested the previous guidelines as too strict numerous times over the years through the grievance/arbitration process and contract negotiations.”

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