In the workplace, dress codes have long been seen as a way to portray a sense of professionalism and character. But after two years of working online with comfortable clothing and sweatpants on hand, is it time to question whether establishing a dress code is really necessary for your organization? Considering the impact it has on other areas, such as inclusivity and productivity, maybe it is. As we move further into 2022 with employees starting to go back into the office, many professionals aren’t too excited about giving up their habit of casual attire.
However, dress codes can help portray the image of the company to professional clients and customers. Dress and appearance practices have been used by organizations to create an employer brand image, and cannot be discriminatory or unfair. Several types of dress codes that vary by industry include formal business wear, business casual, and casual Fridays.
Inclusivity & Dress Codes
These days, it’s common to have a blend of in person and online working styles. As an organization, it’s important to be mindful of and adaptable to how your employees work best. Being flexible when it comes to dress codes can help an organization be more inclusive and respectful. But while dress codes might still play an important role in your business, it’s also important to listen to what your employees are saying about it. According to the process of rolling out an office dress code from recruiter box, employer should remember that one size doesn’t fit all. Ask for employee input, and stay away from ambiguity.
How does A Dress Code affect the workplace?
We wanted to examine the effect dress codes may have on other factors within an organization. Does the implementation of an office dress code really impact the workplace?
Here are some factors to consider:
1. Employee Productivity
According to a study done by the firm Accountemps, 44% of employees were most productive in the early morning. Dress codes may inhibit productivity with critical time being spent getting ready. The first half of the workday is often when productivity is at its peak, and taking that away with dress codes might not be the smartest move.
2. Does a Dress Code Truly Prioritize Equality?
When you consider the time and money spent to reach “office appropriate” look and attire, women are at a disadvantage. They often spend more effort and time on grooming than their male counterparts. Higher pressures on women are not limited to formal dress codes, but to informal dress codes as well. Today, as the “new casual” aesthetic becomes more popular, especially for women, it’s important to note that this style favours white, expensive, and abled body forms of dress. This new trend doesn’t actually support equality within the workplace. This article by The Globe and Mail further emphasizes how casual dress and competency needs to become part of the conversation.
3. Industry and Generational Differences Surrounding Dress Codes
Of course, with every industry comes many differences. In a rigid corporate setting, formal attire may be the obvious choice. However, when it comes to more creative industries, it becomes more blurred as to what may be deemed appropriate. When you add on this new shift towards “business casual,” ambiguity is a lot more prevalent. Different generations have contrasting perceptions as to what “casual” may entail. So, as an organization it’s important to mitigate that with specific dress code definitions and policies.
Whether we like it or not, dress codes do act as an important way to convey your personal brand as well as the company’s image. In many circumstances, they are also a way to signal performance. However, it is important to recognize that ambiguity surrounding dress codes may put several visible and invisible minorities at a disadvantage. Cultivating an inclusive workforce should take dress codes into account by supporting and encouraging your employees to perform at their best.