How to Create a Professional and Inclusive Dress Code

How to Create a Professional and Inclusive Dress Code - Expert Staffing

If we traveled all the way back to the beginning of formal employment in the U.S., we would see the use of dress codes in the workforce. Of course, dress codes have evolved over the decades, but employers have had a greater struggle creating and implementing a dress code in recent years.

It doesn’t matter how many people you see during your work day – team members or customers – a dress code is a professional standard of any business. 

Exploring Professional Dress Codes

The dress code seems to have fallen by the wayside for many workers and businesses. Regardless of the reasons, here are some positives that implementing a dress code can bring.

The dress code provides employees with guidelines for appropriate clothing to wear at work

Certain companies may decide to vary these guidelines for different employees (i.e., salespeople vs. warehouse workers), while others use one set of guidelines for the entire company. 

Since dress codes have evolved over the decades, it’s essential to create a set of guidelines sensitive to all your current and potential employees. This means it should be inclusive of all types of employees. Is an inclusive dress code a better option than no dress code at all? Absolutely. 

The Benefits of Implementing a Dress Code

Here are a few benefits of why it’s essential to have a dress code:

  • Employees appear professional and on-brand
  • Promotes cohesion and teamwork
  • Maintains clarity

Even though ensuring your dress code is written inclusively might seem cumbersome, it’s clear that the extra effort is worth it for the employees and the company.

How to Write an Inclusive Dress Code

While a dress code serves the overall success of a company, it also needs to make employees feel safe (for their work performance and their personal expression). Follow these suggestions to develop guidelines that can deliver on all fronts.

Discuss Options with Employees

One of the best ways to create an inclusive dress code policy is to gather input from your current employees. While keeping the benefits of a dress code in mind, understand what your employees will be comfortable wearing. You may be pleasantly surprised that workers are more inclined to follow a policy, especially when it makes sense and keeps their preferences in mind. 

Don’t Be Too Strict

Should you enforce a dress code? Absolutely. However, trust your employees to have good judgment. You are not creating a uniform for your employees, so the guidelines should be a guide and not a strict set of particular rules. 

When you gather feedback from your employees, then show them that you trust their discernment, they’ll be more willing to follow a new or refreshed dress code. 

Communicate the Dress Code Effectively

Once you’ve gotten feedback from employees and created a professional attire guide, it’s time to communicate. While a dress code can be enforced, it would be a shame to do so if employees aren’t aware of any changes to the dress code. Call a meeting and email a copy to employees as well. Discuss the guidelines, answer questions, and don’t shy away from why this new dress code is being enforced. Workers are more likely to see the value when they understand the reasons. 

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