For as long as anyone can remember, or at least since the 1970's or 80's, beards have been frowned upon in the most corporate of workplaces. Although many of the bankers, lawyers, and titans of industry that helped lay the foundation of our fair nation were known to have grown illustrious facial hair, in more recent decades beards have been looked down upon for supposedly creating the impression of untrustworthiness and dishonesty. Luckily in more recent years an increasing number of industries and professions have adopted less strict facial hair policies as office environments become increasingly casual and impromptu.
However, what about those more conservative fields that we previously mentioned? The bankers, the lawyers, the industrialists (or maybe economists and venture capitalists in today’s society), and the like, how do they break through the facial hair ceiling? Well, for some of you, you might just be out of luck with certain employers and industries just being stuck too far in the past, but for the rest of you, we have a few good tips to get the conversation rolling with your bosses.
Understand The Stereotypes
The best way to disprove your supervisor’s or company’s reasoning for not allowing beards is to first understand the stereotypes behind their declaration. Somewhere along the line beards started being viewed as a way for a man to hide his face, which some took as a sign that he had something to hide. Sillily this mindset was transferred over to the world of business where beardsmen started being labeled as untrustworthy and mischievous, two ways that anyone who handles money for a living does not want to be described.
The best way to combat this though? Show your superiors that this is most certainly not the case. It might take time, and maybe even a promotion, but if you carry yourself as an ideal employee then eventually you might just be able to convince your boss to lift the unfortunate ban. And who knows, you might even inspire your boss to join your team for No Shave November next year.
Most Importantly: Don’t Get Defensive
Anytime you’re trying to bring someone around to your way of thinking, it’s important to keep your cool if and when they make any sort of comments you might find inaccurate or offensive. When your boss tells you that “beards are shady” or “facial hair is unprofessional,” simply accept their opinion as just that, an opinion. The only way to start a discussion is to hear their side and then adapt from there.
What you most certainly don’t want to do is give them any reason to not at least consider your hairy suggestion. It will take some discipline and you might have to grit your teeth, but the cooler you stay in the face of your boss’ small mindedness the better. Once you’ve had the initial conversation, slowly start working on finding a solution, one day of growth at a time.
Keep Your Beard Well Groomed
As some ancient Latin philosopher/drunk once said, “Fortune favors the bold,” and when it comes to facial hair in a corporate setting, this might be the best route to take. Whether you’ve slowly let your stubble grow out at work or you’ve decided to hang on to your two-week vacation beard once you return from a trip, the best way to avoid being asked to shave is to keep your new beard as well groomed and clean as possible.
Although we’ve all been tempted to simply let our man manes run rampant, in certain professional settings one’s appearance counts for just about everything and ensuring that your beard is as well-tailored as your suit can go a long way in helping to break down your office’s bearded barriers. Trim, clean, and tend to your beard with a careful eye and this will let your boss know that beards don’t have to be chaotic and neither do the employees who opt to grow them.
The Arrival Of The Power Beard
As beards have become increasingly popular over the past decade, they have even managed to infiltrate one of the most facial hair-averse environments in the professional world: the boardroom. More so than ever before high-ranking executives and their comrades have adopted beards as signs of maturity, confidence, and strength. CEOs like Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Sergey Brim of Google, along with former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernake, are paving the way for their entire industries to embrace the hairier side of life, although Silicon Valley has always been ahead of the curve.
Think of it this way, if the men at the forefront of technology, entrepreneurship, and finance are growing beards, there’s hope for each and every one of you out there, struggling to get through a day without shaving without someone making a comment to you at the water cooler.
Work Places Are Changing For The Better
With the rise of startups, freelancing, and much more casual working environments, most industries have thrown any pre-existing notions of being anti-beard to the wind. Simply put, there are too many guys growing beards, or simply not wanting to shave everyday, to try to enforce it. As more established and conservative companies look for younger, more creative-minded employees to help their companies innovate, the notion of enforcing a no beard policy will get more archaic sounding by the day until eventually the very idea of such a thing will be laughed at. For those of you working at large insurance companies or the IRS, be patient, there might still be time for you and your completely shaven brethren just yet.