Office dress codes have always been a hot topic, especially for women.
One of the concerns is that there may be a double standard on expectations for how women dress over what men wear.
Sometimes this double standard seems to be spelled out while other times it may be implied through comments by co-workers and supervisors. It’s often difficult for women to know what is appropriate and acceptable.
Controversial Topic for Many
Salary.com conducted a survey about dress codes and how they affect the workplace.
Many of the respondents felt that often dress codes were never strictly enforced and weren’t part of the company’s policy. Instead, they were put in place by supervisors or department managers and at random.
The survey also showed that many employees believe that their office’s policy on attire is too lenient.
When companies are too permissive, things can go too far.
A professional dress code not only enhances the company’s image, employees often act more professional.
This survey also showed the issue with some employees “getting away” with wearing what was considered inappropriate attire.
One of the issues with establishing a dress code policy is that there are more fashion choices for women than for men. It can be difficult to address every type of clothing and either prohibit it or set up specific guidelines.
Another problem is that some offices actually encourage provocative dress to capture the attention of clients.
One example is in some medical facilities where cosmetic procedures are performed.
Dressing and looking like the “after” photo can encourage those who are contemplating some type of procedure.
How to Address the Double Standard
Businesses that do not have a dress code policy should seriously think about establishing one.
However, if they choose to do so, they need to offer clear-cut guidelines. How employees dress can reflect on the company, which is why the rules should be designed to enhance the image of the business.
Monitoring is another area where some businesses must improve.
Every employee must be subject to discipline if he or she is not willing to follow the dress code. Supervisors and managers must be educated in the dress code and their roles. They cannot look the other way on certain people while calling out others.
In many cases, managers may have to educate employees on how to dress appropriately.
For instance, the Faded Glory Women’s Bree’s Solid Planet Jersey Maxi Dress, which is sold at major retailers like Walmart, would be appropriate clothing to wear in warmer weather with a sweater or shrug on top. A blazer would make it look more professional.
The choices people make in how they dress are often personal to them.
When dictating what is allowed and what is prohibited and enforcing those policies make sure to remain professional so that the employee recognizes that it is not a personal attack on the person.
This is a controversial area and businesses must tread carefully when dealing with the issues that occur.
The one rule that must be followed is that men and women must be treated equally with no double standard.
As a business owner/manager or employee, what are the dress code rules (if any) at your company?
Photo credit: Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including HR and small business.