• S
  • Groveland, USA
  • 6 months ago

Speaking to an employee about business attire

I work in a business casual office setting, but I have a female employee who tends to push the boundaries of what is acceptable- very short skirts, plunging necklines, etc. How do you speak to your employee about this? I worry that her inability to present herself as a business professional will hold her back from promotions, but I don't want to verbalize it that way. How would you approach this topic?
  • J
  • SJAFB, United States
  • a month ago

Look over the dress code, if she’s dressing by the dress code there’s not really much you can do unfortunately without it coming off as personal. Sometimes the dress code will state that you must dress in a appropriate and tasteful way so you could use that. I worked for a department store once. The dress code was black on top and black or tan on bottom. I’m not one to dress frumpy at work so one day I wore black leggings, a longish but flattering wide-strapped black tank top, and a long black cardigan/sweater that was black tan and white striped. My boyfriend at the time was not anywhere near dress code, he had on a green flannel with an orange shirt under it. The manager stood up in front of everyone and said what the dress code was, and added “no tight shirts, no leggings, no sweaters unless they’re all black.” It was super embarrassing and quite frankly very disrespectful. I was in dress code, all the handbook said was black on top and black or tan on bottom. It was very personal.

  • A
  • New York, United States
  • 6 months ago

I work in advertising and sadly have had this conversation too many times. I’ve approached it with the angle of wanting to speak with them about their growth and in particular their “brand.” What do they want to be known for? Reliable, trustworthy, the happy hour girl or badass boss lady! Which allows you to start to talk about how important it is to build the right brand bc our reputation travels with us. Having a brand of being wildly intelligent but not consistent in our presence in the room does hurt us. It’s a less than pleasant convo but if they are smart women they’ll pick up your cues. Good luck!

  • A
  • New York, United States
  • 6 months ago

Hope it helped.. How did it work out?

  • S
  • Groveland, USA
  • 6 months ago

Angela, you nailed exactly what I was looking for! This is a fantastic way to approach the topic - thank you for the guidance!

  • S
  • Austin, United States
  • 6 months ago

If you've noticed, probably so has that one d-bag in your office. It might be a good idea to check and make sure no one else is harassing her or making inappropriate comments. You mentioned her attire is "borderline," but that means it's still okay. I used to wear the tallest possible heels our dress code would allow, because I am short and like to feel tall, and the crummier guys would always say something crude about it. It was really frustrating that no one higher up was on my side (I had a policy and a ruler, and I wasn't doing anything wrong; I should've been allowed to do my job without that kind of BS). Likewise, if she's top-heavy, y'know, sometimes shirts just fit that way and seem to bring extra attention to big boobs (and there's not a whole lot that can be done about that, aside from wearing a turtleneck, and ha, NO, unless the office is an icebox and she never has to go outside in the summer).

  • S
  • Groveland, USA
  • 6 months ago

It may be okay according to our policies, but it most certainly is not professional. I'm trying to look out for her as I believe her lack of perceived professionalism is going to hinder her growth. I can say with great certainty no one is harassing her - we have great communication (and a really great office, to be honest!). I appreciate your perspective since you have clearly dealt with harassment in the workplace- I try to be diligent but appreciate the reminder. 🙂

  • Taylor
  • Somersworth, United States
  • 6 months ago

Are you her manager, and is it a decent sized office? You could send out a memo reminding employees of acceptable dress code. That way you are not singling her out. Just a thought 🤷🏻‍♀️

  • S
  • Groveland, USA
  • 6 months ago

It's a good thought, but unfortunately I only manage 4 people, and two if those are men. She woukd definitely know it was directed at her.

  • C
  • Beverly, United States
  • 6 months ago

Look at Ask a Manager's archives on this topic. She offers excellent advice on these topics.

  • S
  • Groveland, USA
  • 6 months ago

Thank you, I will look into this!

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