Has your office turned into a 70s film set?

HRM 09 Nov 2012

Fortunately (or unfortunately), it’s that time of the year again: Movember.

Yes, it’s the annual grow-a-thon that incites endless office banter, and a lot of ‘tasche comparing and contrasting.

‘I started growing mine in September’, ‘You know, you can kind of train them like a vine’ and ‘I look like Freddie Mercury’, are all comments overheard by this writer so far this ‘tache season.

Nevertheless, it’s all for a good cause, namely raising money and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and depression in men. The latest ABS statistics show prostate cancer is the 11th most common cause of death, and intentional self-harm is 15th.

However, facial hair has had a tumultuous past, and not everyone has been on the ‘tache bandwagon.

In 2007 at Scots College in Wellington, New Zealand, several graduating students were banned from end-of-year prizes for having grown wild and woolly moustaches, and the college threatened to ban a senior student from their NCEA examinations (official secondary school qualification) for growing a moustache during Movember.

A number of high profile organisations in the corporate world also do not accept facial hair, and the New York Yankees management refuses players with hair below the upper lip.

In many law enforcement departments, facial hair is also not allowed due to an “unprofessional” look the facial hair is said to give.

While schoolboys, fire-fighters and police are all required to have clean shaven faces, men often query when facial hair is permissible in a professional setting.

Some say it depends upon the culture of an organisation, while others say facial hair is an extension of one’s self, and thus is an individual’s own decision. It is indeed a bit of a grey area.

With the Key Media team well on board this mo’ season, HC asked around the office to shed some light on the near spiritual bond some men have with their ‘tache.

“My sympathies go out to year-round moustache wearers who will be pestered with Movember-related jibes over the next month. I only wish I had the staying power to build a long-term relationship with the face fuzz,” Robin Christie, editor of Wealth professional, said. This year Robin is opting for a classic mo, changing it up from his usual style of the handlebars.

So how can an organisation be fair when creating and upholding a policy in reference to facial hair and the general appearance of employees?

A general rule of thumb may simply be to have a consistently enforced and well written policy on professional standards of appearance. Having a clearly communicated policy from the outset removes any grey areas.

One thing’s for sure, the event is set for a long and hairy future.

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