It’s 2015 and it’s safe to say that we, as red blooded Americans, are guaranteed a few things. Like life, liberty, and the pursuit of growing a beard. And one hopeful beardsman in Florida is determined to fight for his right to let his chin locks flow free and proud.
According to an article from CNN Money, Brandon Wesley, a 19 year-old employee of the supermarket chain Publix, has posted a petition on Coworker.org in an attempt to change company policy and allow employees to grow beards. As it stands, company policy allows employees to have mustaches, but they are strictly prohibited from growing any other form of facial hair. In approximately two weeks, more than 9,000 people have signed Wesley’s petition in support of his cause, with more than half of those signers being Publix employees themselves.
And why not change an outdated policy like this one? Realistically, a beard isn’t going to alter anyone’s opinions of a supermarket, nor of their products. Beards have made their way into everything from modeling and fashion, to marketing and branding. Is Publix really under the assumption that if the average consumer walks into one of their locations and sees a beard, they’ll assume the Frosted Flakes and Ragu are of a lesser quality because everyone in the store was too busy oiling their beards to check expiration dates?
In fact, it might do Publix a heap of good to let their employees grow out their beards. There’s a good chance customers will be more likely to buy a $6.00 bag of quinoa from the bearded employee. He looks like the kind of guy that knows his grain products.
According to Wesley, this petition is really about trying to “modernize Publix’s dress code policies”, and he and his fellow like-minded coworkers are more than willing to adhere to beard length restrictions, and make beard nets mandatory for those who work directly with food.
Good call, because as much as we’re in favor of facial hair freedom, no one wants hairs in their Boar’s Head smoked ham.
If successful, the petition would be a huge step forward for today’s beardsmen. While many companies and businesses are coming to modernize their dress codes and embrace facial hair styles, there are still many that are steadfast in their policies against them, citing that a completely shaven look is still the pillar of professionalism. These policies and thought processes do, however, seem to be going to way of the dinosaur.
In October, Starbucks revised their dress code regulations to allow employees to openly show their tattoos – this after a Starbucks employee named Kristie Williams started a petition on Coworker.org asking for Starbucks to review and change their tattoo policy. Amassing more than 25,000 signatures, Starbucks relented and allowed employees to show their tattoos.
Williams’ success on the tattoo front, and now Wesley’s attempt on the beard front, is hard evidence that the times they are a-changin’, and we as a society are moving toward a more progressive and modern view of professionalism in the workplace.
Want to join Brandon Wesley’s campaign? Go to www.coworker.org/petitions/let-us-have-beards to sign the petition.
Featured Photo Credit: “Publix Corporate Headquarters Main Entrance Sign, Lakeland Florida” by John O’Neill – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.