Loughborough becomes first university in the UK to sign up to the Halo Code

Loughborough University is proud to announce that it has become the first University in the UK to sign up to the Halo Code, which supports students and staff to wear their Afro hair how they choose to.

Signing up to the Halo Code means Loughborough is committed to ensuring that no student or staff member faces discrimination or detriment to their career or education because of the way they choose to wear their natural hair while at work or studying. It is also an opportunity for us as an organisation to proactively celebrate Black heritage and culture and demonstrates our commitment to act to address racial inequalities.

The Halo Code was developed by the Halo Collective, an alliance of organisations and individuals working to end hair discrimination, founded by young Black organisers from The Advocacy Academy. They aim to influence employers and schools to change their understanding and acceptance of Afro-textured hair, and to help dismantle a culture of discrimination experienced by Black people who continue to face implicit or explicit pressures to conform, unwelcome comments, and outright unequal policies.

The Halo Collective website details the lived stories of many Black men and women who have been discriminated against at work and through their education, as their hairstyles were deemed to be “unprofessional, unruly, unkempt, a distraction to others”.

The following statistics are cited on the Halo Collective website, taken from The Good Hair Study by Perception Institute & The Hair Equality Report by World Afro Day & De Montfort University:

  • 58% of Black students experience name-calling or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school.
  • 1 in 4 Black adults had a negative experience at school in relation to their hair texture.
  • 46% of parents say their children’s school policy penalised Afro hair.
  • 1 in 5 Black women feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work.

Veronica Moore, Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity and Chair of the EDI-Sub-Committee said: “Many Black children, both in the UK and internationally, will have been educated in a school system that overtly discriminates against Afro hair and traditional Afro hairstyles. This discrimination is formalised in school policy and can result in exclusion. At a more insidious level, it perpetuates a culture that infers that Black children are naturally inferior to white and Asian peers and contributes to unconscious bias. This institutional racism is internalised by young Black men and women and unless institutions like ours proactively challenge this attitude the covert bias continues, regardless of an absence of formal rules we might have about how Black students present.”

The adoption of the Halo Code was ratified by Human Resources Committee after the proposal received endorsement from the BAME Staff Network. The two new Co-Chairs of the Network, Dr Angela Dy and Professor Upul Wijayantha, commented: “It is really encouraging to see the growth of initiatives such as the Halo Code, organised by the Halo Collective to support the self-expression of Black staff and students. Thank you to Amanda Silverwood for introducing it to Loughborough, to the BAME Staff Network for supporting it, and Human Resources Committee for adopting it on behalf of the institution. This is a great example of how we can work together in allyship to amplify good anti-racist practice and help to advance a culture of diversity and inclusion at our institution.”

Vimbiso Simwaba and Samuel Ola, Co-Chairs of the student Afro Caribbean Society (ACS), confirmed their support: “The Halo Code is a great initiative that promotes the self-expression of hairstyle of Black employees and students, which serves as an important part of our identity. The ACS recognises that this goes a long way in improving the culture of diversity and inclusion in the institution."

The LSU are also in the process of signing up to the Halo Code. Alex Marlowe, returning LSU Welfare and Diversity Executive Officer said: “We live in a world where people are discriminated because of how they choose to present themselves. One powerful step we can make to our institutions and businesses is to embed inclusive practices into our institutional fabric, and by signing up to the Halo Code, Loughborough University is taking another step to becoming a safer and more inclusive employer and institution.”

You can show your support for this initiative by downloading and printing a copy of the Halo Code to display in your building or office here.