In many cases HR policy has needed to change over the years to adapt to community norms and standards.
I can recall working in the late 1980s when a policy stated that men could not have long hair in the office. I worked with women who had been required to resign when they fell pregnant.
Clearly these policies needed to change as the community standards changed.
The same can be said for sexual harassment and bullying policies – especially as they relate to “hazing” or initiation activities. Things that were acceptable 30 years ago are (thankfully) no longer acceptable in a reasonable community.
And then lets look at things that used to be unacceptable and which are now acceptable. Men with long hair. Women with short hair. Women wearing trousers!
Multiple piercings. Facial piercings. Tattoos.
And this is why the next article from SmartCompany caught my attention http://www.smartcompany.com.au/people-human-resources/84421-employee-ink-time-update-company-dress-policy/
As tattoos become more mainstream, there are more TV shows about tattoos and tattoo artists and the stigma about ink reduces, isn’t it time to consider changes to workplace policy such as dress code?
Personally I don’t have any tattoos and whilst not a fan in general I can appreciate the beautiful artwork and talent of certain artists.
Trust me I have seen some truly magnificent tattoos as well as some terrible work. Hmm, perhaps the word “art” and “human canvas” are appropriate reminders that tattoos are very much like art.
The SmartCompany article asks some good questions about dress code policy and tattoos.
Let me add my usual 3 points of observation
1. Any policy needs to reflect law and your company situation. In Victoria physical appearance is a “protected attribute” under the Anti Discrimination legislation, hence any decision to not hire or to dismiss a person for having tatooss would be discrimination.
Company situation relates to what industry you are in and what client base you have.
2.Keep it in context. Unfortunately certain factors about an employee only become a problem when they are part of a bigger story.
Is there a concern genuinely over a tattoo, or is there another factor (often performance or attendance related) that underpins the top line issue. It may not be the tattoo so don’t make it about the tattoo if it’s about aspects of performance and behaviour at work.
3. The old rule of thumb used to be the question of whether an employee was in a customer facing role, and if so then the dress code and appearance needs to be in keeping with the customer norms.
This is a tricky one as customer bases move and shift.
It’s also important to remember that contribution and performance is about so much more than physical appearance. Let’s keep focused on the ability of an individual to fulfill the inherent requirements of their role.