A friend was having a Facebook discussion on the fact that a Metropolitan Authority (Plymouth Council,) here in the UK has banned the wearing of Flip-flop Sandals to work. Succinctly I made the following point:-
When I was more of a corporate animal than I am now, I did an in-house company course called ‘Image Is Everything’. The Title speaks for itself. Having spent the past decade in the realm of the performing arts afterwards, while still working in the corporate world occasionally, I am always reminded of what I learned on that Course. While they were talking about image branding, it wasn’t lost on me (just by the title alone,) that there is an area of personal responsibility that we are all responsible for and that is how we as individuals presents ourselves, especially in the workplace and elsewhere. Our own personal image branding
This is overlooked by many people, as I have noticed this past week as we have been having a major heatwave throughout the UK. Call me a chauvinist but I have lost count of the number of female office workers I have seen making their way to work, wearing a scantily-glad dress, whose footwear consists of flip-flop sandals. I must be missing a trick or several here because the last two corporate organisations I worked for were high-profile Events companies that had dress codes that while not draconian insisted on an environment where professionalism prevailed, right down to the way people dressed. Even Friday ‘Dress Downs’ were a smart but casual dress affair that still had a sense of professionalism. That I have not seen this past week, as my observations proved.
Women generally have far wider latitudes than men when it comes to dressing and I would not argue with that for one moment but there is such a thing as using one’s discretion and from what I have seen this past week, discretion has not prevailed. Ladies going about their professional business during a working weekday has instead been replaced by one of women going about their personal business as if on a weekend or while on holiday somewhere, rather than professional females doing a professional job somewhere.
Look, I am a Levi Jeans-wearing, T-Shirt-wearing kind of guy. In my personal life only. During the heatwave this week I have been wearing shorts, t-shirts and training shoes. But had I have not been going to a job, auditions or job interviews. And if I were, I would certainly not be turning up to those situations wearing the above attire. For a corporate job or interview, I would turn up in a business suit, no matter how hot it was. A navy suit, white shirt and a nice tie, normally does the trick on a hot summer’s day (it certainly didn’t do Jack Lord any harm in the old Hawaii Five-O series). For an audition unless I am told to dress a specific way, I will go smart and casual but still giving a professional image.
A professional look/image, will always get a professional response because people know you are running a business, mean business, are ‘The Business’. There are ways of dressing to take account of extreme hot weather. Turning up to work, scantily-clad wearing flip-flop sandals isn’t it, anymore than my turning up in shorts, t-shirts and trainers is going to project a professional, business-like image. But I know better.
Why am I am focussing on females here? You may indeed wonder. And the answer is, I am not seeing males turning up to work in corporate organisations wearing Bermuda/holiday shorts and t-shirts or looking as if they have been to or coming from a evening of nightclubbing. And yet this is what I have been seeing of females all week. I live near the heart of UK’s Financial Sector ‘The City of London’ and this is what I have been seeing all week. Now of course not every female has been dressing the way I have described but the vast, overwhelming majority have been. I am not talking about employees of media companies here but very corporate employees working in the very heart of London’s financial sector.
I used to argue that while Image is important, it wasn’t the begin all and end all of a person. The past decade or more, since I did that Course, has taught me the opposite is true. The last job I did in the corporate world was as a moderator for a PR Awards Event. My role was to assist the judges and give the nominees of the various categories a certain amount of time to make their presentations. I turned up wearing a blue business suit, white shirt and a blue-patterned tie. I turned up looking professional, kept a professional air, treated the judges, colleagues and reception staff with the highest professional standards and courtesy at all times, dealing with issues as they arose and finding solutions to them, as well as advising those concerned accordingly. My behaviour matched the image I was projecting, that being one that I was here to do a job and I was doing it to the highest possible standards.
The above was not lost on the judges, nominee teams nor those I was working closely with. Image is indeed everything, and with it comes a behaviour that matches the way one conducts themselves, right down to how one chooses to dress.