If a female employee interprets "business casual" to mean dressing like Jennifer Lopez, you’ve got a problem. According to a CareerBuilder study, 80.8 percent of women and 45.2 percent of men find visible cleavage unprofessional. The women will fume, the men will gawk, and work will slow down.
"It’s absolutely a distraction," says Sherry Maysonave, author of Casual Power: How to Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication & Dress Down for Success (Bright Books).
To cut off a battle of the sexes, you must take action. First, make sure you have an explicit dress policy, says Maysonave. List items, such as halter tops, that cannot be worn, and illustrate exactly what you mean by “tight clothes” with pictures if necessary.
Then, take the offender aside. (Men: Take along a female manager.) "Ask her if she’s interested in a career in the company," says Maysonave. With a dress code as your legal backing, explain how her unprofessional attire may cost her promotions and raises, and send her home to change.
Some employees may be angered, but your company will get back to work.
Chris Sandlund is a former editor of Success magazine.
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