All employees of the Company are required to be in Business Formal wear on all working days.
Men: Full sleeves light colored shirt, dark trousers, tie, black shoes and dark socks
Women: Western business formals, cotton churidar kameez, salwar kameez, starched cotton saris and professional looking sandals.
The above lines were found in an offer letter from a software development organization based in Trivandrum for the position of Senior Software Engineer. Yes that’s right, they expect you to wear shoes and neckties in the hot and humid Trivandrum. Wow! I am surprised that they actually manage to hire people despite this.
I wonder if there is any justification for a dress code policy at all. If we accept that the primary responsibility of a software developer is to develop and maintain software, does it matter what the person is wearing while he is performing the function that he is hired for. I usually wear t-shirt, denims and sandals to office. Can anyone argue that wearing “Full sleeves light colored shirt, dark trousers, tie, black shoes and dark socks” will make me more productive? Most intelligent beings would be immediately able to answer that in negative. Still people persist with this patently stupid notion called a dress code.
Here are some of the typical arguments for having a dress code. And then my attempt at explaining why its all bull.
- Uniformity: You usually see this in the military. Why should a private firm that is not even remotely linked to the military try to use similar tactics is beyond me. Also, I am unaware of any instance where uniformity has been helpful in the task of software development. Different ideas, different thoughts are actually required in this environment and trying to curb the individualism by imposing uniformity is an attempt at what can only be called self-destruction.
- What would the clients think if they see you: Last few years, I am yet to see someone who was upset on seeing a developer in the casual attire. Am not including people from banking and financial sector as they seem to belong to an entirely different planet altogether. That said. I dress differently when I am meeting a client or a VC. Assuming that you have hired intelligent beings, would it not be better to treat them as such? Would not “dress appropriately” be a better policy than a strict dress code?
- Without a dress code chaos would ensue: Again, I have not seen any evidence of this.
- I like to dress “professionally”: I wonder when and how did a necktie or suit become associated with being professional. But leaving that aside, if you like to dress up, by all means do it. But don’t force others to follow in your footsteps, let them take their decisions.
- It is a career booster: Do you really want to work at a company where how you dress is all that matters? Do you really want to work at a company where the only way to move up the career ladder is to ape the suits? There are plenty of companies out there who would hire you for the skills you bring to the table. Is it not better to work for them instead?
If you are not comfortable dressing “up”, don’t go working for one. When you interview with a firm if all the interviewers are in formals, then that should be a warning signal for you. Heed the warning and don’t walk away, just RUN :-)