Business Insider: A Young Employee At My Office Wore A Crop Top to Work. What's A Tactful Way To Let Her Know That's Not OK?

13 Aug 2022
What does it mean to look "professional" in today's post-pandemic workplace?

Originally found at Business Insider

I'm a senior leader in a midsize office in New York City. Most of my colleagues work a hybrid schedule, but there are more of us coming into the office on a regular basis. Before the pandemic, I would categorize our dress code as "business casual." 

The other day, a newish junior employee came in wearing a full-on crop top. I was weirded out by it, and the people on my team were, too. I know because several people told me so. 

I thought maybe HR would send an email about appropriate attire for the office — a more bland version of "Don't dress like you're in the club." But there's been nothing so far.

I'm not this young woman's boss, but I feel like I should say something to her. I don't want to crush her spirit or make her feel embarrassed. I also don't want to provoke a lawsuit. What's the tactful approach to this issue? 

You raise a pertinent question: What does it mean to look "professional" in today's post-pandemic workplace?....

"If there are no guidelines set in advance, no one knows what the guidelines are," said Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who's conducted research [published in the Academy of Management Discoveries] on the effect of clothing and work. 

This is especially true for young people who might be unfamiliar with office dress norms. "There's a difference between what you wear working from home — what made you feel comfortable and helped you be productive — and what you should wear to the office, because it's a different context," Galinsky said.

What's more, clothes are complicated because they affect both the wearer and the beholder. Galinsky's research suggests that our clothing changes how we work and how we feel about ourselves. Studies have also shown that we, fairly or not, make inferences and judgments about people based on what they're wearing.

Continue reading the original article at Business Insider.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Discoveries.

Read the Academy of Management Insights summary.

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