Cover Up?

How’s the decision by the French government on banning veils in public places going? According to the BBC, a woman wearing a veil has today been detained by police in France who insist she was held not because of her veil but for taking part in an unauthorised protest against the ban. I’m not a big fan of banning stuff and I wonder how the French authorities are going to manage this?

I’m not a huge fan of dress codes at all mind you (no jokes about t-shirts or my forthcoming smart shorts project thank you), and I’m pleased that the customer I’m currently spending a lot of time with working on an internal comms plan, doesn’t have one. According to the recently published XpertHR 2011 dress codes survey, they’re in a minority. 72% of organisations which responded to the survey have “dress code regulations or guidelines, or operate a policy on dress or appearance at work.”

Yes or No?

Those employers without a code say they:

“Do not have one because employees dress appropriately without guidelines. Exactly half say that it is not necessary as the organisation has a culture that it describes as “relaxed” and not conducive to having a code telling employees what to wear.”

Those who do have one say they do for a number of reasons, including (in declining order of popularity):

  • to preserve the external image of the company
  • for health and safety reasons
  • to reinforce the internal culture
  • for practical reasons
  • to maintain hygiene
  • to distinguish or identify employees

I love the “reinforce the internal culture” point. I can’t help but read it as “we don’t trust you”.

Is it worth it?

Maybe this sounds harsh, but for me a dress code smacks of HR and head office (where 74% of these guidelines are set according to XpertHR) not having anything better to do. I hope that'[s not the case. And it’s notable that 53% of the employers surveyed said their code provokes complaints from employees and 33% say that too much energy is spent policing it. There’s an easy answer to that last point. Don’t have one.

What are you wearing today?

photo c/o Jacques Delarue

survey data c/o XpertHR