Gone are the days where everyone arrived at work dressed in a full suit, now that denim jeans and other relaxed wear have become commonly accepted work attire. Corporate businesses of all kinds, including many CPA firms, are loosening or even eliminating their dress codes.
“We saw an opportunity to reflect how the workplace is changing, and we wanted to enact positive change for our employees,” said Kevin Turco, a senior manager at a California firm, Armanino. “We believe we can be professional and comfortable at the same time.”
While some companies have found that they have had to mitigate social media harassment when their codes appear to target gender-specific garments, this change has more reaching effects due to a radically changed mindset about office dress in the past 40 years.
“Dress is now open to the interpretation of the individual, rather than an institution,” said Susan Scafidi, law professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute. “There’s a strain of thought that says an employee represents a company, and thus dress is not about personal expression, but company expression… But there’s a counterargument that believes because we identify so much with our careers, we should be able to be ourselves at work.”
Even still, some firms have noticed that their employees don’t necessarily adopt a new, relaxed dress code right away. That may be due to the newness of the change, or it may be a result of the long-standing history of business dress in corporate industries like accounting and finance. Some individuals may find that such a big wardrobe change is too difficult (or expensive) to adopt quickly, while others may be uncomfortable with a suddenly lax dress code.
But not all firms are in a position to need to consider a change. Count on That (COT) is certainly ahead of the traditional CPA firm with office dress codes, and has been since our origin. Our team members regularly wear shorts in the office, regardless of whether or not they are meeting with clients or the day of the week.
According to our Managing Member Jeffrey D. Levell, “Taking advantage of technology, higher-end marketing, and even dress wear is part of the culture of COT. It fits with our approach to not just providing compliance services and recording history as most CPA firms, but providing proactive tax planning, business consulting and helping our clients succeed for the future.”
Regardless of the reasons for this evolution of business fashion or its adoption in corporate settings, being and appearing ‘professional’ in the workplace has less and less to do with dress and more to do with each company’s actual values.