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Fashion police: Is it time to revisit your dress code?

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Question: “I am the CEO of a small community bank. We have a dress code that has not been updated for several years. Many of our female employees have asked if we could relax the dress code requirement that hose must be worn with pants or long skirts. I don't want to be needlessly old-fashioned or out-of-step with the rest of the world, but I’m not sure if this is appropriate. How should we go about reviewing our dress code policy?”  —Not a Fashionista

Maire's Answer: While dress codes often are helpful, they also can be an employee relations nightmare.  The best way to create a reasonable and effective policy is to involve employees in the process. This helps to reduce resistance and ensures that you consider their point of view.

•    Select a small group of employees to draft a new dress code. Choose people other employees respect and who understand your business goals.

•    Meet with the group to explain the image that you want your business to have. Establish any guidelines that must be followed. For example, are some garments specifically prohibited?  Is business casual acceptable? Do different jobs require different styles of dress?  

•    Ask the group to get input from its co-workers before drafting the new policy. Have the group present its final recommendations to you for approval.

•    Once you have approved the dress code, involve the group in communicating the new policy to the staff.  

Regarding your specific situation, the change requested by your employees is not unreasonable.  Dress codes should balance an appropriate business image with contemporary trends, and many women today no longer wear hose with every outfit.

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