Dress policy is racist by omission

Dress policy is racist by omission

When a new client comes on board, we update their handbook and contracts, explaining and agreeing the contents with them.

This process can lead to some interesting conversations, with such an example presenting itself this week.

While going through one of the contracts, we discussed the dress policy – which is fairly detailed – to stop any misunderstandings of what is suitable and what isn’t.

Part of the policy states that the Company will not insist on dress rules which run “counter to the cultural norms of (ethnic minorities), unless for reasons of Health and Safety”.

Our client asked what that meant and we explained if they were, for example, wearing a hijab or a turban.

The client then said, and this stunned us into silence (not a mean feat!): “Oh you can take that bit out. I won’t be employing anyone like that anyway”!

Which is DEFINITELY religious discrimination, possibly racial discrimination and possibly gender discrimination (if they were just referring to the hijab).

The result would be a MINIMUM six figure payout to anyone who took them to court (plus legal fees).

We were disappointed to hear such a negative approach from a modern business owner, with a business in a diverse part of the country. There is a strong possibility that candidates from ethnic minorities would apply to work at that company.

It is also shooting yourself in the foot as a business owner: it is difficult to find good, productive, positive, qualified employees who want to work in your business for the wage you are offering them.

And this may become even harder after the end of March next year, so why ignore a significant pool of candidates just because of what they put on their head?!

That said, any candidate coming to an interview with a baseball cap on backwards deserves to be rejected!

What unnecessary restrictions are you putting on your ability to find the right person for your job AND are they illegal?

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