Beards in the Workplace
I have worn a beard for most of my professional life. My father did too, the key difference being that he was a welder by trade and I have a white collar job. At times my beard does get a little unruly and long, usually during hunting season, but I am also smart enough to know that when we have a big customer visit or I have an interview, it’s time to get out the clippers and make it look presentable. My brother also works a white collar job and also wears a beard year-round. It just happens to be a style preference.
Of course I am biased but at no time have I ever taken someone less seriously because they had a beard. An ironic hipster mustache? Yeah, probably. A well-groomed cookie duster on a master carpenter? I would be disappointed if they didn’t have one. This has all been on my mind lately as I have been ‘strongly encouraged’ by my superiors at work to stop stalling and make the jump into a management position. The only problem is that my company has a strict policy on beards for management. They are not allowed. A mustache is okay but beards are verboten.
It seems silly to allow a cosmetic preference affect my career path but when I was in college and planned to be an archaeologist I knew that my beard would be welcome in my chosen profession. In fact, many of my academic heroes were all handsome bearded fellows. Every year my employer offers us an anonymous survey where we can share our opinions about the company. Every year I write the same thing: “Get rid of the no-beard policy for management.”
And so today I saw this picture on Facebook and it made me even more resolute that this is an antiquated policy. The gentlemen below, as the subtitle indicates, is president of the Bluegrass Brewing Company here in Louisville. He has a pretty awesome beard, fairly similar to my own at its present length. Now admittedly micro brewing is a fairly hipster-ish activity, but I wonder if he ever has problems with customers taking him seriously?
I have been in countless meetings with high-profile customers, many of whom were Europeans in swanky suits and with expensive haircuts…and beards. Somehow my company still respected enough to take their multi-million dollar business. So why the silly policy for its employees?
For the readers, what are your thoughts on facial hair? Would a beard ever make you reconsider someone in a professional setting?
Mike Dwyer is a freelance writer in Louisville, KY. He writes about culture, the outdoors and whatever else strikes his fancy. His personal site can be found at www.mikedwyerwrites.com. He is also active on Facebook and Twitter. Mike is one of several Kentucky authors featured in the book This I Believe: Kentucky.