February 9, 2001
Business Wire Story - MRI
Cleveland, Ohio

When does business casual dress cross the line from professional to too casual for the workplace?

More than one-third (34.2%) of executives polled think that business casual dress has gone too casual, according to a recent survey by Management Recruiters International, Inc. MRI is the world's largest search and recruitment organization and a subsidiary of CDI Corp. (NYSE:CDI), a global top 10 provider of staffing and outsourcing.

"More than two years ago we conducted a survey of hiring executives about the future of casual dress in the American workplace -- 40% thought that the suit and tie would eventually vanish from the workplace," said Allen Salikof, president and CEO of MRI. "But perhaps the pendulum has swung too far. Attire such as open-toed shoes, tank tops and shorts, or sweat suits should be considered too casual for today's workplace. Yet, more people are dressing in this manner at both start-up entities and Fortune 100 companies alike.

"While no one is suggesting that the three-piece suit make a comeback in Corporate America, employers and employees alike need to find a happy medium in dress style that affords comfort and flexibility and complements today's more informal workstyle, while keeping within the boundaries of taste," Salikof commented.

A greater percentage of companies within the real estate industry (59.9%) and the financial services sector (47.3%) said that casual dress in the workplace had become too casual. Nearly 4 out of 10 executives representing companies with more than 1,000 employees echoed those sentiments.

Regionally there were also differences. Companies in the North Central (38.5), Mid Atlantic (34.7) and South Atlantic (34.2%) regions also were more likely to report that dress in the workplace had become too casual.

"Companies in the West (29.4%), Southwest (29.3%) and South Central (24.7%) regions were least likely to agree," noted Salikof. "These regions of the country tend to dress more casually in general and warmer temperatures may also play a role in more lax dress code policies at work.

"Casual dress has become a workplace benefit, and prospective employees do take this into consideration when exploring a new job opportunity. Employers recognize the value of added comfort throughout the workday, but they need to set the tone or create a policy to govern this benefit just as they would other benefits being offered to their employees. There is just too much room for interpretation on an issue like this."

Management Recruiters International, Inc. (, is the world's largest search and recruitment organization with more than 1,000 offices worldwide. Based in Cleveland, MRI has systemwide billings of $600 million and places 45,000 people in jobs annually. MRI is a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based CDI Corp.

(, a global top 10 provider of staffing and outsourcing services. In 1999, CDI had revenues of more than $1.6 billion and nearly 100,000 people worked on company assignments.


Kitchen Public Relations, New York

Laura Levine or David Norman, 212/687-8999

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