Blog, Human Resources, Organization, People

Dress Codes Revisited

As a follow up to my previous post titled “Dress Codes at Work“, I wanted to present the following hypothetical question to my readers.

You work for a company that has a formal dress code that requires a tie to be worn everyday to work. You have the chance to hire the world’s foremost expert in “________” (fill in the blank). This person tells you that they aren’t going to wear a tie and want to be able to wear jeans and a polo shirt every day to work when not interacting with clients.

What would you do?

Assume that the financial decision isn’t of concern (in the real world, we know it would be…this person would probably be very expensive).

Do you hire this person and allow them to follow their own dress code or do you pass and allow them to go to work elsewhere (perhaps your competition)? Would your company even allow you to hire this person because of their request to not follow the dress code?

My answer: I’d like to hire this person….but I have a few caveats to that.Would I want to hire someone that immediately starts asking that they be treated ’special’? Maybe…maybe not…it depends on how the person approached the subject of not following the dress code.

Could I hire this person? Maybe…maybe not…I know a few organizations that would flat out refuse to hire this person because they wouldn’t ‘play the game’ and dress like everyone else.

Would you want to be a part of an organization that would so easily toss aside a potential superstar just because they won’t wear a tie? What does it say about an organization who holds a dress code in higher regard than a person.

In my opinion, dress codes exist to create uniformity. Do you really want uniformity in your organization? Can innovation and creativity grow out of uniformity? I don’t think it can but perhaps someone can prove me wrong.

I do believe in wearing a tie…and even a suit now and then. I just don’t want to be told that I have to wear them every day in order to ‘fit in’. If I’m visiting a new client I ‘suit up’ if its appropriate.

PS – make sure you look at my picture on my blog. You’ll see Mr Uniformity :) That picture will be changing soon…I had already decided to change it prior to this post but now I know I have to change it.

[tags] organization, Innovation, Leadership, Human Resources, people [/tags]

About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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Pawel Brodzinski
16 years ago

That’s a tough question. Considering that I have no chance to change rules about dress code probably I wouldn’t hire the person, although with a heavy heart. The reason is it would harm the teamwork. Primaballerina habits always harm the teamwork and that very, very rarely can be justified.

That has more to do with general attitude than with dress code issue, but still the answer is the same.

And personally I prefer to work in companies where there’s no dress code. You won’t have problems like above there.

16 years ago

Perhaps you mean “the world’s foremost expert in…” and not the “worlds foremost expert in…”.

Eric Brown
16 years ago

Jack – that is exactly what I meant…thanks for the correction!