Given how much time people spend at work these days, employees should be comfortable more often than not, and heels and ties don't exactly make for a comfy outfit. Plus, no one wants to be told what to wear. The Ladders' Monica Torres reports that according to one survey, 61 percent of people say an office dress code had "no positive impact" on their work.
Although the majority of everyone interviewed said there was nothing “positive” about dress codes, some young people took that statement further and said they would even consider quitting if a company forced them to dress a certain way.
Torres referred to Professor Sir Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert, on the generational divide on the matter:
“Strict policies have only persisted so far due to the attitudes of senior leadership, who grew up with the idea that wearing a suit and tie to work was the only way,” Cooper said. “There’s scant evidence that dress codes have a positive impact on well-being, productivity or perceptions of an organization.”
Dress codes maintain uniformity and professionalism. They also offer consistency, even if the rules do not require extremely formal dress. Recruiterbox, an organization that helps companies hire through software, advises companies to implement inclusive dress codes:
A dress code also allows your company to define what’s appropriate for employees to wear in the workplace. If left open to interpretation, outfits can range from jeans and t-shirt to suit and tie, and include everything in between. Implementing an easy-to-understand dress code can prevent problems from occurring and ensure your entire staff dresses consistently.
In early 2019, Goldman Sachs did away with tradition and dropped its formal business attire requirement. CNBC reports that this is a "move once considered unimaginable for the Wall Street firm's leagues of monk-shoed partners and bankers in bespoke suits."
Historically known as a white-shoe investment bank, Goldman Sachs traditionally required formal business attire. But since 2017, the bank began relaxing its dress code for employees in the technology division and other new digital businesses. This created a divide in the workforce as clear as denim versus pinstripes.
There's no question that millennials appreciate a more relaxed work environment. It's only a matter of time before dress codes become a thing of the past:
More than 75 percent of Goldman employees are members of the Millennial or Gen Z generations--people born after 1981.
Dress codes prevent any mishaps when it comes to presenting your company to others. For large consulting firms, dress codes are essential, as employees often work in the offices of clients. Many organizations–from Starbucks to Ernst & Young–prioritize dress code in order to maintain a positive presentation to customers.
Delta, for example, has a stringent dress code for flight attendants. During their intensive training program, Delta flight attendants meet with a "personal image" consultant. Together, the trainee and the consultant talk through every aspect of the flight attendant uniform, down to the wristwatch. One Delta instructor explains the importance of maintaining a consistent dress code:
"Image consultation is very important to us because, as flight attendants for Delta Air Lines, you are, and we are, the brand."