In 2015, Nicola Thorp was sent home from her job in London’s Financial District for failing to wear high heels as stipulated by the dress code of the temporary staffing agency that hired her. She felt the dress code was unfairly weighted toward men, and took the matter before Parliament, which formed a task force that heard from women who had bled and tottered through strains and sprains as a consequence of wearing high heels.
The Parliamentary committee – after two years of debate and testimony – concluded the country needed to update its restrictions against workplace discrimination to include disparate dress codes based on gender.
The staffing agency, by the way, immediately updated its dress codes to include flats for women after Thorp’s complaint went public.
The incident highlights the need for staffing agencies to avoid any semblance of discrimination, but also illustrates how much workplace dress codes have changed over the 25 years that AtWork, a leading light-industrial staffing office, has been in existence.
It could be argued that the “casual Fridays” of the 1990s started the ball rolling toward a more democratic dress code. Now, Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook, is known for his T-shirts and hoodies.
Fewer companies require men to wear suits and ties, and power suits and skirts are for the most part no longer required of women in the workplace. The growing influence of Millennials and more modern generations, which believe meeting the demands of a job is about performance, not appearance, might be driving standards lower, too.
Most companies agree, however, that the front-facing employees of a company are justifiably still held to higher standards than their counterparts who work more internally focused jobs. Your web scribes typically don’t have to sport the same professional attire as your saleswomen or managers.
As the lines between professional and personal attire continue to blur, you want to ensure your staffing service boasts a dress code that is both compatible with the company’s philosophies, anti-discrimination laws and an increasing bent toward self-expression.
AtWork staffing services is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and monthly blogs will focus on changes in the staffing industry landscape during that time.
Contact us today for more information on staffing solutions — and ensuring your company has a fair, legal and reasonable dress code.