Disney among the employers adapting to changing appearance expectations

Posted Thursday, July 16, 2015 9:30 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Companies such as Disney have appearance policies to project a positive image, but the restrictions are prompting legal challenges from employees who don't conform to them because of their religions.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Thursday, July 16, 2015 9:35 AM
Jeff's avatar

This change has been happening in my line of work for a very long time. I think it's predicated on a number of things, including the need to be competitive as an employer to retain the right people, treating people like grownups, an acknowledgment that the clothes do not in fact make the man, etc. I don't remember the last time I wore a tie to an interview, and I've never had one for work. I still don't own a suit, and I'm OK with that. I'm glad to see the culture finally chipping away at the distaste for tattoos and piercings thing too.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:28 AM

Simple if the employees can't do what the employer asks. Then that employee needs to find another line of work.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:43 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

How is that simple when part of what the employer asks is to project a certain image?


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:37 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

It's not simple. We each have the right to not be discriminated against based on our religious beliefs. Companies have the right to establish appearance guidelines for employees. Where does the company's right to establish a dress code end relative to a citizen's religious liberty?

I suspect that if a person belonged to a church that required the wearing of a Christian cross on a chain, visible at all times, Screamlord would be concerned about the employee's rights, not the employers...


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
-- Groucho Marx

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 3:41 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

"We each have the right not to be discriminated on based on our religious beliefs" - That is, until you say you don't have any religious beliefs - then you're the most hated minority in the country.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Thursday, July 16, 2015 3:48 PM

You are making ti more complex than it is. Every business has a dress code. You either do as they say to get employed or you don't get hired. IT has nothing to do with religious liberities. You check your religious liberities at the employer's door and they are suspended until you leave.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 3:51 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Do you also check your gender "liberties" and racial "liberties" at the door? Your rights to not be discriminated against based on your gender or race are suspended while working?


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
-- Groucho Marx

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 4:20 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Screamlord said:

You are making ti more complex than it is.

I kind of agree with this.

Every business has a dress code.

And this.

You either do as they say to get employed or you don't get hired.

Yeah, I don't understand why this has become so complicated. I wouldn't want to work for someone that I disagreed with or knew my beliefs would conflict with. You do you. I'll do me. It's cool.

IT has nothing to do with religious liberities.

Awww. You're losing me.

You check your religious liberities at the employer's door and they are suspended until you leave.

Aaaaand...you just took the hard left into wackoland.

So close. So close.


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Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:26 PM
Jeff's avatar

And that's why I wouldn't be in any hurry to work for Disney, because I know they would have an issue with putting something through a hole in my ear, and that strikes me as completely silly. If you execute poorly in and overspend on an important part of your business, you're probably wasting energy worrying about what people are wearing. But again, it's easy for me to take that position because there aren't enough (good) people to fill the jobs they have, especially in Central Florida.

I get the rationale behind the public facing jobs at least, but I also believe that as an enormous company, you don't have to blow off taking a moral stand on something to make a buck. Seattle tech companies were sending floats to pride parades long before same-sex marriage every became something people wanted to ban. It was the right thing to do. In Disney's case, specifically to the Sikh issue (and for that matter, the Muslims who have sued them as well, and won), you can't talk about global inclusion in one of your most famous attractions and not walk the walk. If some subset of people can't deal with a guy wearing a turban or a woman wearing a hijab, I think that's not the company's problem. In fact, it's very much a reflection of their guests.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:32 PM
LostKause's avatar

I always thought that if the clientele had tattoos and earrings, it should be okay for the employees to have them if they wanted to. Also, I don't see a difference between anything a person chooses to wear because of their religion and things they choose to wear because of the style they grew up with. I never understood why it was ever an issue to begin with.


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Thursday, July 16, 2015 9:17 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

I'm not sure why we keep trying to collapse the idea of religious attire with style choices such as ties, tattoos, piercings, etc. They are on different planes entirely. For the former, it makes perfect sense that organizations would revisit their policies and make different considerations. For the latter, I completely agree that an organization can have whatever dress code suits them (see what I did there?)

I definitely can see where our society is shifting in ways to a more casual front. And there may be a valid point about demand for specific skills dictating how far an employer may be willing to bend. But I also have to say that to me, there's an entitlement test in there somewhere. If an employee shows up in my workplace boasting about personal style and the silliness of not being treated like a grown up who can dress however he/she wants... my first thought has nothing to do with the attire, per se, and everything to do with why said employee thinks he/she is entitled to declare what should be so in the workplace. Just as we may think an employer enforcing a dress code is silly in 2015, I would say it's silly for an employee not to abide by one if everything else about the job makes sense to them. And if they can't do so and rather than walk away (which I also agree makes total sense) but rather still wants the employer to change the code for them, I would question what else pertaining to the workplace or work itself that person may play the entitlement card with.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 10:04 PM
Jeff's avatar

I totally understand your point about the difference between religion and personal style. My perspective is likely different in part because religion does not play any significant part in my identity. At the same time, I don't even feel that strongly about appearance in general as far as I go, but I can't imagine passing over someone because they don't fit a certain mold. That's the other difference... I'm not even coming at it from the employee side, so entitlement doesn't even come into the equation for me. As an employer, I wouldn't want to miss out on someone awesome just because a customer doesn't approve of their style, religious, personal or otherwise.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:07 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Carrie J. said:

I'm not sure why we keep trying to collapse the idea of religious attire with style choices such as ties, tattoos, piercings, etc. They are on different planes entirely.

Yeah, I was going to say the same thing, but didn't want to get into that discussion. You are still wise, Miss J.

And the rest of your post is spot on too.

I still honestly, deep down inside, if forced to take a side, kinda sorta think the religious thing has a hint of entitlement to it too.

I mean, if I don't want to cut my hair or shave, I get that this might not be the job for me. It's a deeply personal decision - I like the dirtbag thing. It's me. I tried to get away from it for a while, but in the end, I gots to be Gonch.

Isn't that kind of like religious beliefs in a way. (I know, I know. But...) I mean, it's who you are. If your religion dictates a look that is at odds with an employer's business sensibility, then why force the issue? I dunno. I don't see much of a difference between, "I'll never wear a suit" and "My God requires me to never wear a suit." - At least I'm willing to take personal responsibility for my poor taste and grooming habits. :)

Jeff said:

As an employer, I wouldn't want to miss out on someone awesome just because a customer doesn't approve of their style, religious, personal or otherwise.

I don't even think it's necessarily about customer approval. I think it's about a cohesive image. It's about branding. It's about the whole being more important than the individual. It's about business.

There's definitely a positive side to having everyone on the same page. The military, sports teams, helll, even music groups - it's a collective mindset. "There is no I in team" mentality.

And depending on how important that is to the goal, at some point the guy who may be less awesome works better because of his ability to be part of the team than the totally awesome dude doing his own thing.

There's definitely a time and place. In the end, "It depends." But I totally don't fault dress and grooming requirements that are more formal and traditional any more than I dont fault the alt-tattoo shop not wanting employees hanging around with perfectly formed coiff, manicured nails and a three piece wall street smile.


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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:19 PM
kpjb's avatar

LostKause said:

I always thought that if the clientele had tattoos and earrings, it should be okay for the employees to have them if they wanted to.

As long as they don't work in food service. Tattoos are dirty.


Hi

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:47 PM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Jeff said:

As an employer, I wouldn't want to miss out on someone awesome just because a customer doesn't approve of their style, religious, personal or otherwise.

Though I'm with you on the conceptual level...practically speaking, I gotta say, I would totally pass on someone with awesome skills if they didn't conform to the style/culture of the organization.

Why? Because of this...

Lord Gonchar said:

There's definitely a positive side to having everyone on the same page. The military, sports teams, helll, even music groups - it's a collective mindset. "There is no I in team" mentality.

And this...

Lord Gonchar said:

And depending on how important that is to the goal, at some point the guy who may be less awesome works better because of his ability to be part of the team than the totally awesome dude doing his own thing.

I'm looking for someone who can think beyond themselves for the greater good of the team. And though not necessarily a definitive indicator that the person wouldn't be about the team, being stubborn about self-expression in terms of clothes in the 30 minutes I have to get to know a potential employee, is likely going to rule him/her out.

And though it might not be a great reason, the truth is, if I'm not able to send someone from my team into a meeting with our executive leadership, or customers, or business partners, at a moment's notice to represent me and our team because of their style choices, then the value proposition of that person's skills diminishes. That's just the way it goes. Especially if it's a reflection on my team and/or possibly going to cost the organization revenue.

So....who wants to work for me? Anyone? Anyone? ;) :)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:52 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
I don't even think it's necessarily about customer approval. I think it's about a cohesive image. It's about branding.

Image and branding are about customer approval. And I would even contend that the approval isn't particularly difficult to achieve, since, as you've mentioned before, people seem pretty content to accept the "Walmarting" of America. Heck, why are people OK to have the dude with tattoos and plugs make you a burrito at Chipotle but not strap you into Space Mountain? In fact, who says they wouldn't be OK with it? "Those people" are already there as guests anyway.

Look, I give an obscene amount of disposable income to Disney (annual pass renewals next week... ouch), and I'm not losing sleep over the "Disney look" enforcement. That said, the world did not end, and attendance did not fall when they started allowing beards last year or the year before. I doubt it would if they had a guy with a "MOM" sailor tattoo on his forearm serving the gray stuff at Be Our Guest.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Thursday, July 16, 2015 11:56 PM
Jeff's avatar

Carrie J. said:
Though I'm with you on the conceptual level...practically speaking, I gotta say, I would totally pass on someone with awesome skills if they didn't conform to the style/culture of the organization.

Style and culture are not the same thing. I work at a company that's experiencing explosive growth right now, and the leadership team, really everyone, is very concerned about maintaining the company culture (being nimble, reacting to change, keeping life balance, etc.), and style has nothing to do with it. As is the case for most IT shops, we're already a very international bunch (with Sikhs and Muslims, no less), and I'm funny T-shirt guy. It has no bearing on cultural fit.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, July 17, 2015 12:00 AM
Carrie J.'s avatar

Jeff said:
Style and culture are not the same thing.

They can be, though. It just depends on the context, I think.

Last edited by Carrie J., Friday, July 17, 2015 12:05 AM

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, July 17, 2015 12:07 AM
LostKause's avatar

Gonch pretty much elaborated on what I wanted to say. What's the difference between a guy who's "religion" is punk rock and a guy who religion is Jewish? The Jewish guy wears the prayer beads and the Yamaka, and the punk rock guy wears the mohawk and the donut earrings. Both styles are equally obnoxious, but the Jewish guy is the one who will get to wear what he wants to in the end.


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