Two mighty corporations recently issued new dress codes, and they're brilliantly contradictory, casting light on how utterly clueless management is about what makes employees tick—or ticked-off.
The news is this: Barclays Bank wants its investment bankers to chill and dress down, while Newsweek is requiring staffers to button up. So the upshot is that stuffy Wall Streeters are encouraged to look like unscrubbed college kids—while rumpled-by-nature writers and editors must now dress like Brooks Brothers mannequins.
Here's a summary of Barclay's new dress code, according to CNBC.com:
The bank has recently put in place a policy of supercasual Fridays. Jeans, T-shirts and even sneakers are acceptable on Fridays. . . . The idea, apparently, is to make Barclays a better, cooler place to work. It's one of a number of initiatives the company is taking to make employees enjoy their workplace more.
As you might expect, some I-bankers can't get into the über casual thing. One Barclays banker tells CNBC: "I didn't become an investment banker to dress like a perpetual teenager." Another says to CNBC: "It's ridiculous. Please make them stop. It's like working at a start-up but without the IPO."
Newsweek, on the hand, would like to see its employees get more uptight. Reports Politico:
IBT [International Business Times, which now owns Newsweek] staff are required to follow a dress code that prohibitis denim jeans, sneakers and baseball caps, among other articles of clothing. "Open-toe sandals are not permitted." Hair must be [a] "natural color," and "well groomed." Staffers who do show up to work without meeting these requirements "will be asked to return home to change into suitable clothing."
To add to the ridiculousness, Newsweek now requires journalists to perform an additional unnatural act: refrain from being negative. Politico reports:
Employees may also be terminated for a "negative attitude or behavior that is not contributing to a harmonious working relationship with fellow employees," according to the handbook.
If you can't go around making disparaging remarks about the clowns coming out with these ridiculous rules, what's the point of going into a field like journalism? Aren't writers paid to be royal pains in the butt?
But I digress. Let's get back to Newsweek's dress code. How can anyone seriously ban sneakers, jeans, and all that sloppy-chic stuff at a news organization? And the prohibition against open-toe shoe—what era is that from? Even in Corporate America, open-toe shoes have gained some acceptance.
All of this points to a severe identity crisis in the workplace. I only hope that law firms don't fall into the same trap and start aspiring to be hip and cool. So here's a refresher: Bankers and lawyers should not look relaxed. They're suppose to be tense and uncomfortable.
Hey, why battle nature?
E-mail Vivia Chen: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawcareerist