At my last job, I witnessed management issuing stupid, condescending guidelines on “business casual” attire similar to this dress code offered by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel:
Last month, the agency devoted part of its employee newsletter to “Business Casual” do’s and don’ts. Tight pants, short skirts and long fingernails are out; khaki trousers — for everyone! — are in. Any among the 100-plus staff of lawyers and investigators who have spent their careers blind to the sartorial signals of official Washington were told: “You are not trying to stand out for the cutting edge look, but for your good judgment.”
Next came two pages of tips for achieving the good-judgment, non-cutting-edge look.
Men: Avoid sneakers for receptions, leave earrings at home and strap on a “conservative watch.”
Women: Wear the conservative watch, plus tailored pants, tailored shirts, tailored sweaters, and “a tailored purse . . . that hangs on your shoulder is often advantageous as it frees your hands for greetings (hand shakes) or holding a beverage.” For those who cannot master this, “leaving your purse locked in the trunk is preferable.” Also “make certain you can walk comfortably in your shoes.”
Etc, etc. Now people are either mocking the agency or feeling offended. I’m more dismayed at the message such drivel sends, and more importantly, why employees continue to put up with this.
I certainly mocked the dress code guidance issued by my former employer (sweat pants are not business casual), but that kind of treatment factored heavily into my decision to leave. Pay me to do a job, and I will do it. Like most employees, I am not stupid. I’m more than capable of figuring out how to model the dress code of my superiors. Respect me enough to assume that. If I fail to demonstrate that ability, speak to me separately about it.
Infantilize your entire workforce, and you eventually have a workforce incapable of thinking for itself. Kinda like socialism and its paternalistic form currently spilling out from legislative bodies all across America.