Dilemma of the Month: Who Follows the Dress Code?

by Evil HR Lady on September 6, 2018

My organization’s dress code is business casual — jeans are acceptable with nice tops. But our leadership team disagrees over who should have to follow this dress code. About a third of our employees work in the corporate office, and only a handful of them meet with clients or vendors. Another group of employees telecommutes and only has contact with a client or vendor if they have scheduled a meeting. Our remaining employees work in various office spaces, and have minimal direct contact with clients. Should all our employees have the same expectations or is there a different standard for those that come in contact with clients or vendors more regularly?

To read my answer, click here: Dilemma of the Month: Who Follows the Dress Code?

Leave your own in the comments!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ginger September 6, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Our dress code is essentially “Employees should be well groomed and dressed appropriately for their duties.” If there’s a problem with the way someone is dressed, it is their manager’s duty to handle the issue.

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grannybunny September 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

If everything is left up to the discretion of individual managers, that’s not really a dress code. What it a specific manager decides that an employee can never be considered “well groomed” if sporting a Black hairstyle, such as a Natural or braids? Of if a particular manager believe that jeans are never “appropriate” for work? It seems like you would end up with a lot of variations, with those working under more strict managers complaining that they were being held to a higher standard than others.

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Mr O. So Casual September 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Correct: seems ripe with opportunities for hazing unfavored employees, unequal treatment, etc.

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Goober September 6, 2018 at 5:44 pm

I work in the corporate office of a retail hardware store chain. We have a dress code. We are _not allowed_ to wear a coat and tie. We need to set an proper example for the sales people in the stores, and nobody wants to buy toilet parts from a kid wearing a tie. We need to maintain a certain blue collar image.

(And our former owner would come in during the hot summer days dressed pretty casually, and hated feeling over-dressed in his own office.)

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Maria Rose September 6, 2018 at 9:38 pm

The dress code, if any, should be determined by job duties. If the job is a hands on position versus a position that involves face to face interactions, dress code would differ. Whatever the dress code, it should be clearly defined to cover variations by personal preference especially when the company doesn’t provide a uniform (like the Post Office or FedEx). For example—A dark close toe shoe requirement makes sandals and similar styles not allowed during work hours at work.
Some people argue that a required dress code denies their personal freedom but to those, I would tell them that they need to face reality as clothing styles has nothing to do with job performance.
In the circumstances of the business situation described in the article, each job area could have different dress attire. I would assume that the more professional attire should be worn by those individuals who are the front line for the company to the customers. If a person moves from one position ( say backroom duty) to customer service, they should be expected to dress accordingly.

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AB September 7, 2018 at 12:32 am

When I first became an accountant the practice I worked for had a dresscode of business suits only, women were only allowed to wear skirts, no trousers. Fast forward quite a few years and I am still an accountant but for a dangerous goods chemical plant. My uniform is my oldest pair of jeans, a company polo shirt, safety boots and hi-viz. If we have meetings on site, all female attendees are asked not to wear high heels but flat enclosed shoes for their own safety. They can still wear their business suits and skirts but we aren’t going to be fussed if you have a pair of runners on your feet. The drafting of uniform policies need to take into consideration the nature of the job and the workplace environment.

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