[By Nisha Chopra]

It has always been said that “fashion is pain,” but should that rule apply at work?

The fashion industry changes with each season and reinvents itself every couple of years. In the midst of all this change, the business world has remained fairly traditional over the years, with few styles breaking through to become acceptable workplace attire.

It has consistently been the norm to dress a certain way when in professional settings, especially for women. Nowadays, women have the freedom to swap their pencil skirts and button downs for pant suits, but there are still expectations when it comes to hair, shoes and even makeup.

Last year, a female employee in England made headlines after she was dismissed from her job for wearing flats instead of heels at work. This kick-started a petition to reject mandatory heels at work in the U.K. which received over 150,000 signatures.

A snowball effect began after gender discrimination within the workplace was discovered in a follow-up investigation. It was revealed that women were told not only what to wear but also how to do their hair and makeup and how to maintain their nail varnish.

A recent health report discusses the hazardous short-term and long-term health effects brought on by wearing shoes with a high heel.

As the PR industry is predominantly female, this leads to some serious challenges for us as communicators. We need to consider how we can communicate internally with employees about a dress code that isn’t discriminatory (or borderline hazardous) toward women, but still maintains a sense of professionalism within the workplace.

This also creates an opportunity to be proactive and consider our own company’s practices so the issue is tackled head-on while dodging any potentially bad publicity.

How do you feel about the workplace dress code? Does it play a key role at your job or impact your overall productivity?

(Photo via Free Stock Photo)