Should a dress code be discussed at interview and is it relevant in 2022?
How relevant is a company dress code in 2022? Having spent almost two years attending online meetings in corporate tops and ‘never to be worn outside’ joggers (those parcel deliveries certainly instigated some ‘can’t unsee’ moments!), adhering to a dress code has become almost archaic to some employees.
In the new ‘comfort is key’ climate, candidates may not warm to the prospect of a dress code, and it could put them off pursuing their application. If there is a risk of losing good candidates, when should you mention your dress code policy?
Why do companies still have a dress code in 2022?
The purpose of a dress code is to reflect the culture and values of an organisation in the presentation of its employees. A dress code is particularly relevant to employees in customer-facing roles.
The chosen dress code policy will depend on the sector of the business and the work employees do. Typically, corporate sectors such as finance, banking and law are likely to have a formal dress code to create an ultra-professional culture that builds trust and authority. Creative start-ups are less likely to have a stringent dress code because it doesn’t reflect the culture of free expression.
Some companies will advocate that a dress code promotes inclusivity and equality because it removes fashion competition and avoids the potential for judgemental attitudes and bias.
Does a dress code affect success in hiring?
A dress code that is too stringent may affect your chances of hiring the best candidates. Here are some considerations when deciding on a dress code:
- Many entry-level candidates are unable to afford corporate clothing such as suits, or any clothing that they wouldn’t normally wear outside of work.
- A dress code policy might include restrictions on tattoos and piercings. This could affect the diversity of candidates coming into existing teams. Diversity is key in creating a productive, inclusive culture that carries a range of personalities, skills and approaches to work.
- Candidates may be put off if they feel the dress code is unlawful because it discriminates against age, disability, gender reassignment, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
- A dress code policy that is more relaxed could offer an effective halfway house between presenting a clean, professional appearance and meeting employee needs and preferences.
- Having a dress code that is manageable and inclusive can create a strong sense of belonging and pride in a company brand. Incoming candidates may see this as a benefit to joining the company.
- As long as a dress code is sensitively managed and there is room for conversation around the needs of the employees, it can present a commercial advantage for the organisation.
Would you make a candidate aware of a dress code policy at interview?
If your organisation has a dress code policy, it should be disclosed at some point during the recruitment process. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing a new employee on their first day!
The dress code could be included in the job description to give the candidate a steer on what is appropriate to wear to interview. If the dress code isn’t mentioned until the interview, candidates may feel self-conscious if they feel their clothing doesn’t meet the policy, and consequently perform badly.
With the increase in flexible and home working, the dress code policy has the potential to become redundant, but currently there is still a need for employees to understand what is acceptable. Appearance and impressions matter.
Perhaps then, open dialogue on the dress code, with both existing employees and candidates, will identify a solution that works for all, particularly if it hasn’t been reviewed for some time.
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