Management: No, it isn't smart to be casual

Last week's "dress-down day" in aid of the charity Comic Relief was - in many ways - demonstrative of the general attitude towards "casual dressing", the management craze that has swept the United States but has so far had little impact on this side of the Atlantic. Many see it as little more than a meaningless gimmick.

US corporations' embracing of the concept as a way of encouraging greater workplace democracy may well have done wonders for Levi's Dockers range of clothing. But - maybe because Brits are not comfortable out of their various uniforms - it has, with a few exceptions, not caught on within their UK counterparts.

Fresh support for this view came in the same week as the Comic Relief day, with a survey suggesting that most managers have unfavourable views of casual dressing, with women particularly hostile to the idea.

The study by the management consultancy the Aziz Corporation asked more than 200 managers in medium-sized British companies for their views on a range of subjects relating to casual dressing, and found reactions particularly negative in connection with "dress-down" days. Against the idea were 64 per cent of those asked, with 45 per cent viewing the days as "an irrelevant gimmick". A further fifth said they were embarrassing, and "encouraged sloppiness" or "diminished professionalism". Women were more sceptical than men, with 78 per cent of them against such days compared with 52 per cent of men.

Most business people still wear a suit or smart business clothing to work. But women managers appear to dress more smartly than their male counterparts. According to the survey, 82 per cent of women and only 52 per cent of men wear a suit.

But it is not just that managers wear smart clothes themselves. They also feel that others should conform. Only 6 per cent of them would regard a colleague who turned up for a meeting in casual dress as "modern" and "uninhibited"; 76 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men considered someone wearing casual dress to be "unprofessional and unreliable" or "lacking in respect for business protocol".

Though Khalid Aziz, chairman of Aziz Corporation, finds it surprising that women have such strong views about formal dress, this could have more to do with the fact that those who have reached management positions wish to demonstrate their status by the way they dress, to make it clear that they are not mere members of the support team.

The survey also found a clear generation gap in attitudes to casual dressing. Business people aged over 40 were more hostile to the idea, while nearly half of those below 40 considered dress-down days helpful, in that they broke down barriers and helped bosses to be seen as friends rather than tyrantsn

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager / Graduate Trainee

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Key Sales Account Manager/Graduate Trainee i...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas