The age old debate about dress code has come again, but in this case, I find it very intriguing. To ask the question of company branding, versus an employee’s right to self-expression is always intriguing. In this particular case, a woman decided to quit her job at WestJet because they asked her to have a more natural hair style. She has a short, spikey hairdo with brown and blond colouring.
I guess, for starters, I am surprised that they considered this to be an unacceptable hairstyle. I thought this was a fashionable and trendy hairdo, as opposed to a “punky” look. If, perhaps, there were unnatural colours, such as green and purple, then I would understand their concerns a bit more.
It is important to note that the company did not fire her, but rather asked to work with her to find a hairstyle that is more natural. She quit, because she felt offended, particularly as she always had this hairstyle, and was even interviewed and hired with this hairdo. At the same time, WestJet’s dress and appearance code also never changed since she was hired. “The company’s staff manual calls for employees to have natural looking nails, free of colourful polish, as well as natural looking hair colour.”
At the risk of sounding ageist, if I were 64 years old, even if I loved my job, I may also quit rather than give in, since I would be so close to retirement age (but that is also making the assumption that she planned on retiring at 65 years old). At the same time, going to the news about this, is, I suppose, her way of fighting it. Even if it does not benefit her, it may benefit others like her who still work for WestJet. After all, other companies have changed dress policies to be more relaxed. Even Starbucks now allows its employees to have visible tattoos (except for face and throat), which was previously against its appearance code.
On the branding side, WestJet is trying to build its image for an upcoming uniform change in 2015. With having new uniforms that match their branding, they are trying to re-emphasize the dress code to its employees.
So, I am going to throw it out there, knowing fully well that this is a very sensitive topic: Do you think that WestJet was justified in requesting this physical change from its employee?
(More information can be found in the CTV video and article: http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/branding-or-discrimination-employee-quits-after-westjet-asks-her-to-change-hair-1.2074880)