Dressing the Part: A Strategic Skill for Individuals and Organizations

When providing training and information to new and existing employees, ideally, we’ll focus on providing them the requisite tools for optimal performance in their jobs. But how much emphasis is there set on how the employee appearing polished, proficient, and professional?

In her article focussing specifically on organizations and dress codes, Sylvia Ann Hewlett describes how following UBS’s publication about how the Swiss Bank envisaged it’s employee’s appearance, there has been some mocking but also a lot of reflection on just how important someone’s appearance is in business. The focus has shifted to assessing the value in organizations establishing a dress code and/or providing guidelines on how the individuals they have hired to represent them should appear. Let us not forget that even Canadian Banks had policies up to 30 years ago preventing their employees from wearing red or female employees from wearing slacks, going as far as indicating the types of establishments that could be frequented outside of business hours.

The article also points out on how women may have a greater challenge then men in setting the right tone in appearance, in that we are asked to conform to a business code and subvert all elements of sexuality, all the while urged to not come across as masculine. I’d add that this is perhaps also quite cultural, highly influenced by the level of conservatism of a region. Then again, should I be dressing differently for a meeting in Abu Dhabi then a meeting in Montreal?


Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

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