My company does not have a written dress code. We are told that this is a casual office and to use our best judgment. I am not sure what that means. A woman I work with rarely wears a bra. I find it terribly distracting and unprofessional. I have mentioned it to my superiors and they refuse to say anything because of the fact that there is no written policy. What can I do?
A.Defining “casual business attire” is a problem with which many people grapple. It’s nice not to have to dress up every day, but some people’s “best judgment” is not that great. “There’s nothing we can do because there is no written policy”, is the cry of The Cowardly Manager. That may be what you’re dealing with here. But try presenting your case to management in a slightly different way. Put your concerns in writing. Acknowledge the awkward situation the managers are in, having to deal such a personal issue as an employee’s underwear (or lack thereof). Unless “letting it all hang out” is truly the organizational culture, you can be sure it’s embarrassment that’s stopping them from talking to her. Stress that her revealing attire makes you uncomfortable and interferes with your ability to work efficiently. If you have seen any negative reactions from customers, be sure to mention that as well. If the managers still fail to address the problem, it means they are putting personal comfort (hers and theirs) ahead of good business practices, so you’d better decide if this is a place you want to work. A word of warning: The Cowardly Manager often resolves a problem with one employee by making strict rules that include all employees. So don’t be surprised if the result of all this is a return to “business formal”.