Published on October 18th, 2016 | by Janine Giorgenti2
Business Casual or Casualty Day?
When in a Professional Environment, Dress the Part.
By Janine Giorgenti
Over the past year I have been getting distress calls from numerous companies complaining that their employees are coming to work unprofessionally dressed thus hurting the overall image and brand of their company. I even had an attorney tell me that his practice is getting busy with touchy harassment issues regarding how to tell a female employee that she is inappropriately dressed for work.
Have our business casual days become, business casualty days?
I think so.
When a workforce becomes too relaxed, these are the common complaints I get from human resource, managers, and CEO’s:
1-Employees are coming to work in ‘weekend wear’ rather than proper business attire.
2-The way the employees are dressing is hurting the image of the company.
3-Employees are totally confused as to what to wear when they see clients and sometimes don’t perform well because they feel inadequately dressed.
4- The atmosphere in the company becomes too informal and relaxed when employees dress too casually.
5-Employees are confused as to who the boss is and who is support personnel.
6-Sales professionals and ‘rain makers’ are not bringing in the business, because they visually lack authority, which is hurting the company’s revenue.
7-Employees are not being promoted, because management feels they do not project the right image.
I felt compelled to write this article, because I felt very bad when the senior partner at a leading law firm on Long Island told me his latest hiring experience.
He was scouting legal talent from a prestigious New York area law school. The candidate on paper was stellar: perfect grades, law review, and other outstanding achievements. To the dismay of the partner, the candidate showed up for the interview dressed very sloppy. He was wearing dirty scuffed shoes, stained dress slacks, a buttoned shirt without a sport coat, when he should have showed up in a suit. His hair was not neat. Although articulate and knowledgeable, the partner did not hire him, because he kept thinking how unpresentable he would be to the staff, colleagues and clients.
What a sorry missed opportunity this young talented man suffered because his appearance and how he dressed!
So, where are we with casual dress? How has casual turn into such a casualty?
I can tell you from the panicked calls and the company dress seminars I am asked to present to address this problem, that Long Island’s business community is sitting on a slippery slope.
Company dress codes need to be well thought out, established, and enforced. Do not expect subordinates and new hires to toe the line if the hierarchy of the organization – themselves – look like disheveled unmade beds.
Casual dress is part of our business culture, however there is a way to dress that looks professional and keeps the authority and the integrity of the organization. My next article will outline how this can be achieved.
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