professionalism

You Can’t Wear That!

Another update from the Jungle….

Bob enjoyed his vacation so much that he hated to come back to work.  Today he showed up still dressed for the beach.  Cindy, the HR manager, was aghast and choked on a mouthful of coffee when she caught a glimpse of Bob passing in the hallway.

Bob is the star salesman for the company and an all-around good guy. He’s an extrovert who tells good jokes. He has a way of talking to people that makes each individual feel valued. But he’s also a bit of a rebel and he’ll stretch the rules because he knows he’s privileged due to his sales ability. Cindy likes Bob and she usually cuts him some slack when he bends the rules.

Now she’s having heart palpitations, not in a good way, because she just saw Bob walking down the hall looking like an episode of Magnum, PI.  He’s wearing a very loud Hawaiian shirt, flip flops, and very short shorts.

Cindy spent two years convincing the socially conservative company president that relaxing the dress code during the summer months would be good for morale. The president only recently accepted the notion that women’s work attire can include pants suits or slacks, a concept most companies adopted in the 1970’s. To convince him to loosen the rules, she had to create detailed lists of clothing that is appropriate as business casual.

Cindy suspects the president will have an apoplectic fit if he sees Bob’s current wardrobe choice. Cindy drops her coffee mug and chases Bob down the hall to invite him into her office for a quiet chat.

What are Cindy’s options?

  1. She can ask Bob where he bought his clothes so that she can upgrade her husband’s wardrobe for their August vacation.
  2. She can send Bob home with instructions to change his clothes. Of course, there is no guarantee Bob will follow her instructions or return later today.
  3. She can review the business casual definition with Bob and ask why he is not complying with it. She can always hope that he has an acceptable excuse for ignoring the rules.

At this time of year, many companies struggle with the definition of “business casual”.   Striking the balance between comfort and professionalism will vary by company but should reflect the company’s image or brand.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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They Didn’t Like Her Looks

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (9)Alana walked into the break room to refill her coffee mug and stumbled into a raging war. A group of co-workers were arguing about the merits of the presidential candidates. Alana sidled toward the coffee maker regretting that she didn’t send her assistant to check if the coast was clear.

The political argument covered familiar ground. Several co-workers scoffed that Carly Fiorina is ugly and unattractive and so she shouldn’t be president. Another co-worker chimed in criticizing the physical appearance and business sense of Hilary Clinton. Both women were criticized for fashion faux pas.

Aside from a few cracks about Donald Trump’s hair, the male candidates were judged on their prior experience and ideas.
The argument focused on the conservative credentials of the male candidates but no one criticized their suits or their ties.

Alana grabbed her mug and trudged back to her office reflecting that some things never seem to change. The AP 2016 BUSH CLINTON FUNDRAISING A ELN USA NYwomen candidates are judged on their physical appearance and not their ideas or abilities. Alana thought about other women presidential candidates. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm’s campaign was dismissed with a smile. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro’s qualifications as a vice presidential candidate were buried under stories about her husband’s alleged Mafia connections. (He was Italian-American from New York and owned a construction business.)

Alana’s the HR director for her company and she conducts many interviews to screen job applicants. The interviews require her to judge job candidates based on appearance, how well they prepare for the interview and their prior work experience. Inevitably, some job candidates lose the chance to move to the next stage of the hiring process because they don’t look or act “right” in the initial interview.

Alana knows that rejecting a job candidate almost always involves her biases, good and bad. She also knows that there are many ways to explain why a candidate was rejected that appear neutral and unbiased.

What should Alana do next?

  1. She can resign her job and go live in a cave with no wi-fi until after the presidential election next November.
  2. She can create a new HR policy banning political discussions in the break room.
  3. She can accept the reality that we are judged on our appearance and recognize how her personal biases influence her hiring recommendations.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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