How to Improve Diversity in Your Workplace Uniform


Ross CraytonManaging Director of Core Workwear

Friday, May 27, 2022

A workplace uniform has many different functions. It can offer protection, provide a sense of togetherness and even act as a walking advertisement for your business. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a uniform, and diversity should be one major factor.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Improve Diversity in Your Workplace Uniform

Ensuring that your uniform is something that everyone in your business wants to wear and can wear is very important both for your employees and your business reputation.

In today’s world, more businesses are looking at how they can encourage more diversity. This is often thought of in terms of recruitment and accessibility, and uniform can be something which is overlooked. However, when it something which needs to be worn by everyone working within the business, then it needs careful thought to make sure that it considers the needs of every employee.

We’ve put together a guide to show you what needs to be considered when putting together a workplace uniform, whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to update your existing offering.

1. Disabilities

When putting together your dress code, you need to always keep people with disabilities in mind. This might include thinking about the types of fastening which are used and could be difficult for those with certain disabilities. Zippers and buttons can be particularly tricky for some or may cause discomfort if sat on in a wheelchair.

Are you aware that some diabetes suffers might not be able to wear dress shoes because of the severe irritation that it can bring about? When taking this into consideration, you might want to think about whether you change the style of shoe for everyone or offer a variety of alternatives so that employees can select what suits their needs best.

2. Hair

School dress policies are often in the news because a pupil has been sent home over a particular hairstyle. This is also an important thing to think about in the workplace. While safety always needs to be a factor, it’s important to remember that certain hairstyles have great significance within a number of religions and cultures that should not be discriminated against.

Freedom of expression is important, and restrictive policies regarding how your employees can wear their hair may damage the reputation of your business with both employees and customers.

It’s important to have standards within a business, but you also need to respect different cultures and individuality. It can help to forge better relationships and show everyone in the business and your customers that your respect your staff and their choices.

3. Gender neutrality

It’s important that your dress code does not target one particular gender or another. It should steer away from typical and potentially offensive gender stereotypes such as requiring women to wear dresses and skirts, or suits for men.

There are many employees who might feel uncomfortable with this, so choosing items which are as gender neutral for all as possible is likely to accommodate more people. One of the easiest ways to do this is by offering choice and allowing employees to pick items which they feel comfortable with.

There are now many unisex items of clothing, such as trousers, which can be incorporated into your uniform. This allows people to wear something which is practical and comfortable and also helps to keep your costs lower by not needing to stock as many different items. Keeping the fit of jackets and tops gender neutral rather than tailoring them to male or female body shapes will also keep many workers happy.

4. Colour

Colour has always been associated with gender stereotypes, so this is another area which can be addressed within your uniform policy. You should choose colours which represent your business and branding but avoid trying to make women wear pink and putting men in blue.

Choosing neutral colours wherever you can, will help to avoid any claims of not being inclusive. Natural, earthy tones can keep it simple and understated, while bright orange and yellow hues might show and friendly, happy and approachable nature. Black, white and navy items are safe and tend to signify professionalism.

5. Sizing

There’s no such thing as being the right size for a job, and your uniform should reflect this. You should opt for something which includes a wide range of sizes to ensure that you can offer something for everyone. Your employees need to feel comfortable in their uniform and unrestricted, so you should ensure that you cater for both plus sized and petite people equally.

This allows them to get on with their job better, and avoids the humiliation of a worker trying to force themselves into something that doesn’t fit or admitting that they need a different size.

You could offer fitting sessions for your uniforms to allow your employees to try a few different sizes on and pick something which fits them the best. Adjustable elements of your uniforms, such as drawstrings can also go along way to making sure that the fit is something that your employees are happy with.

6. Religious dress

Your uniform will also need to take forms of religious dress into consideration. A practicing Muslim may want to wear a hijab, or a Sikh may want to wear a turban. It may also be that certain items are only worn during specific religious holidays. If an employee requests that an accommodation is made for religious dress, the employer should modify their uniform code accordingly.

7. Policy

Having a clear uniform policy means that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and means that no-one should feel singled out. If the policy takes diversity into account, then uniform standards can still be enforced within the business, knowing that it is fair and respectful towards everyone.

You might not have thought it, but your uniform policy can be a big step towards diversity and inclusivity within your business. It not only marks you out as a caring and reputable employer, but also provides you with a happy workforce who are more likely to be productive and loyal as a result.

Ross Crayton

Ross Crayton is the Managing Director of Core Workwear are leading suppliers of high-quality branded workwear, uniforms and clothing.


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