Human Resources Training

Setting the Right Dress Code Can be a Nightmare for Organizations

Key Takeaway:

HR needs to do tightrope walking when it comes to spelling out a clear policy on dress. It has to take important sensibilities into consideration before coming out with a policy.

Among the slew of issues HR is faced with, dress code at the organization can be quite a contentious one. It is because the dress code is an important reflector of the organization’s culture. Many employees, especially in free societies, like to use the dress code as an important symbol to demonstrate their love of freedom.

Yet, setting the right dress code can be quite a nightmare for HR. This is because the diversity of the workplace, while being a great asset, can also bring in sufficient scope for disagreement and unpleasantness. It is because of the existence of diversity that something that one individual or group cherishes may not bring the same cheer to someone else that could be from a different background. Any dress code that seems to favor any group, even if done inadvertently, can lead to some discomfort with others.

Possible Areas of Conflict

Some of the common areas on which there can be sensibilities for employees:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Physical Condition
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion

A good guiding principle for formulating a dress code that does not offend most employees could be the golden rule followed in several jurisprudences: your right ends where his nose begins. Placed in the context of office dress code matters, the interpretation of this maxim is quite simple: allow anyone to practice any dress code, so long as that is not going to overtly hurt others.

A Rule that Applies to every Employee

Although dress codes can be a potential source for nightmares, HR has to eventually create a policy that will satisfy the most and hurt the least.




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