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How should workplace dress codes be managed?

Last Updated Feb 25, 2021 at 3:26 pm PDT

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Summary

It's important to allow employees to show personality in their attire, says expert

Millennials and Gen Z say expressing themselves is important to them

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – As students, parents and teachers in Kamloops talk about school dress codes, questions about how to dress in the workplace are coming up.

Debby Carreau of Inspired HR says while it would be easy to go with a universal dress code, it’s also important to allow employees to show off some of their personality.

“For example, some of the things that get really tricky is if you try and manage makeup and hair length and tattoos and earrings. Some of those ones get really tricky when you try to put them through a traditional gender lens, as well. So, we really encourage employers to stay away from that.”

Carreau points out Millennials and even Gen Z say expressing themselves is important to them, which has contributed to the shift on dress code perspectives.

“Being able to show some personal expression and to be comfortable in the workplace is really, really important to them. No longer can you dictate that you have to wear three-inch heels to work, nylons, those kind of things. Those ones are long gone,” she said.

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She suggests when working on rules, companies should focus on their brand more than individuals.

“You really want to be able to give people flexibility and show a little bit of personal expression within a unified brand image. And you certainly don’t want to have a higher burden for one gender versus another,” Carreau said.

This week, a student wore a black lace dress over a white turtleneck to class at NorKam Secondary School in Kamloops. She says a teacher pulled her out of class to tell her her clothing was inappropriate and was making people uncomfortable.

Dozens of students at the school walked out of class the following day in support of Karis Wilson, who is calling for changes to the school’s dress code. That policy states students are not allowed to wear “distracting” clothing.

-With files from Travis Prasad