Do you have a dress code? With the summer months approaching, some are already feeling the heat, employers battle the summer outfits and sandals. Women tend to enjoy a summer dress and sandals and men enjoying shorts and flip flops. While these are great, are they appropriate for work?
By having a dress code in place, it sets the standard on what is appropriate. Some companies have a summer section, or a casual day written in their dress code to accommodate the warmer months. This alleviates managers having to determine what is or is not appropriate. Cindy Kolb states in “Don’t ‘Flip Flop’ on your Company’s Dress Code”, “Subjective apparel standards by managers and supervisors can lead to complaints by employees of inconsistencies, or worse, discrimination.”
It will depend on the type of business as to what your dress code entails. For example, if you work in a call center where you don’t ever see clients, the dress code might allow shorts, spaghetti straps, and flip flops. If you work in a law firm, that is not appropriate. Their dress code might allow sleeveless shirts, yet shoulders covered, or no tie and jacket on a casual Friday. The number one thing with a dress code policy is don’t make it vague, cite examples!
Kolb states, “Don’t just say “business casual” in your dress code as that term can be interpreted in many ways and sometimes one person’s “casual” is another person’s “inappropriate.” Also, be clear about what days are designated for casual dress. Be precise in the language of your policy in an effort to avoid misinterpretation and to provide your employees with a good guidepost for what is acceptable workplace attire.”
When establishing any policy, make sure you are staying compliant! A dress code policy must be comparable between both men and women or you could face an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) investigation. Bottom line: create a dress code policy if you don’t already have one, cite specific examples of what is/is not appropriate for both genders, and enforce it equally.
Shelly Wallace Johnson, aPHR