I have some advice to give. Never institute a corporate dress code and use terms like “CareerWear.” Please. I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.
Let me tell you a story. Picture a small, tech savvy company with over 75% of its employees under 40. People worked hard and dressed casual. Was there a developer who often wore pajamas? There might have been, but that was more of a curiosity. Geeks are given some slack when they are that good.
And then came the acquisition by a large, conservative organization. In spite of repeated assurances that this would be a great fit (we were both customer-focused companies, after all!), people were worried. Culture clashes became obvious early on. No booze was provided at company events. While we strove to be web savvy and technology innovators, the new company’s website was old fashioned (c. 1996) and Excel was used for everything. Have you witnessed the amazing macros that can be written in Excel? Who needs the web, that dangerous and flashy medium, when you can use a spreadsheet? They were not showing any skin. And soon, we wouldn’t be either.
During one of our quarterly meetings it was announced that a new dress code was being instituted across the entire company. Terror could be seen in my co-workers’ eyes as we awaited the details. CareerWear was in and casual was out (CareerWear includes frumpy clothing imprinted with the company logo purchased at employee expense at exorbitant prices). They wanted us to be proud of the company and to think about the company as we dressed in the morning and throughout the entire day. Are you scared yet? Kool-Aid anyone? The list of clothing items now off limits to us went on for more than a page and included an unexpected tour through forgotten fashions of the 80s. No leotards? That’s just cruel.
It wasn’t as if we were opposed to rules or structure. In fact, in its survival of the dot com era the pre-acquisition company had grown up quite a bit and even the remote control cars had disappeared from the office (but not the light sabers). What disturbed people was the sense that we were being forced to conform, that the company was supposed to dominate our lives (and our fashion sense), that we were not respected or trusted as individuals.
Please, no CareerWear.