Men's Business Haircuts - a bad case of discrimination
Imagine you’re applying for a job as an accountant and got told you have better chances to do well in your job if you wax your legs. Now imagine that you find that most accountants happily comply with that silly demand and think nothing much of it. It gets worse: those who don’t comply have a much harder time finding and keeping a job as accountants because most men just conform and employers get away with demanding it.
That is pretty much what lies behind the classic short back and sides business haircut. The world is insane.
Seriously, cutting your hair or otherwise making any lasting changes to your appearance for a job (unless it’s a modeling job or something like that) is making an unacceptable sacrifice.
Really bad reasons people make up to justify them
"Looking smart and well groomed is part of the professional look"
Well that’s not what this haircut is about. Long hair can look smart and well groomed if you, guess what, keep it looking smart and well groomed.
“So what? It’s the same as having to wear a suit or uniform”
No, because you can take those off after your working hours. A short haircut you take home with you. By demanding you cut your hair this way, your employer is not just demanding you look the way he or she wants at work but also forcing you to look that way in your own time. They're taking ownership of you in a way.
“The employers decide and I have to follow or I won’t get a job”
Then you could at least passively fight it by pushing the boundaries slightly or protesting when you get a chance. Or you could work your way up to a position from which you can change the rules. Don’t just take every ludicrous demand on your knees begging for more. That makes you a passive supporter of such oppression.
You might also want to consider that a company that places such importance on something so trivial and unrelated to the job, might not be geared enough towards success.
“It’s not about looks, it’s about practicality”
Yeah right! If that were the reason, then women would have the same haircuts as men. Even in the army they don’t so the practicality argument is just a lie. You can decide for yourself that it’s more practical but you cannot decide that for others. Besides, styling long hair is often lot easier and quicker than styling short hair. Short hair is never just wash and go unless it’s a buzz cut while long hair often is.
“What about actors and models and jobs like that?”
Obviously, when your looks are what the job is all about, then you have to be ready to tailor them to the needs of the job. Anyone who goes into acting or modeling knows that they probably will have their hair cut in all kinds of styles they did not choose. But most jobs in offices require nothing of your looks other than that you look smart and groomed and that does not need you to get a business hairstyle.
“If you’re working with customers you’ve got to look presentable and trustworthy”
Then don’t demand it from people who don’t work directly with customers (i.e. accountants). Also, nothing looks less trustworthy than the stereotypical clean cut business outfit. There's a reason why more and more top CEOs appear very casual and non-business like. As far as trust is concerned, smart-casual is the best and always will be. Customers first and foremost want real people and not puppets. Allowing for some personal expression raises the authenticity and will improve the business relationship.
Few things symbolize subservience more than forced haircuts and these are a reality for most men. Sure, women have their own version of business haircuts but they have far more choices than men - especially with regard to hair length. So anyone conforming or defending the business haircut as a job requirement is also supporting discrimination and subservience. We did want to get rid of such things didn’t we?
How to get around it
- If you can, find another field to work in. Fortunately there are many jobs or career paths that literally don’t care about long hair. Perhaps it's best to stay out of the corporate rat race altogether. If you must work in come company, then you could start your own business and make your own rules.
- You could get a haircut just for your job interview and then grow it out when you’re hired but that’s kind of dishonest and will only reinforce the acceptability of the demand.
- Check out the company's profile and meet and talk to other employers there. This way you’ll get a picture of how serious they are about such rules. There are some companies that don’t have a problem with longer hair on men.
- Look your absolute best so as to show them how false the myth of long hair looking messy is.
- You can make long hair look shorter depending on your kind of haircut. Best is to consult your stylist and ask for a versatile cut. Obviously you can't make waist length hair look like it's 1 inch long.
- Sometimes it’s not long hair but "messy" hair that's the problem. So if you have hair that tends to stand out or look unruly, you could straighten it or gel it back. Here too, ask your stylist for advice if you haven’t already done so.
What has your experience been with having to submit to haircuts and how did you deal with it?