Opinion: It’s time to stop requiring professional dress in degree programs

An example of professional dress. Photo courtesy of luxe.digital.

The way companies define professionalism is evolving to match the diversity of what is considered “proper” workplace attire. Office culture is becoming more relaxed, so colleges and universities should no longer be requiring professional dress in certain programs.

For government jobs, wearing the typical suit and tie is more appropriate, because the majority of their day takes place in a serious environment. On the other hand, not all people with business degrees participate in a formal office setting.

According to a study conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), the new generation of workers has a different view on job opportunities compared to other generations.

“Entrepreneurship is the new job security for millennials. 74% of millennials say they would be more likely to start a business if they knew where to get help.”

Therefore, if students and younger individuals are looking to pursue their own businesses with their degree, why should they be required to dress professionally on campus?

Markiel Ross, a third-year business administration student at Florida A&M University, mentioned that he plans on being an entrepreneur after he graduates.

“My dream job would not require me to dress professionally, being that I will be self-employed,” Ross said. “Business casual allows for more freedom.”

The percentage of workplaces that have switched to casual dress has gone from 32% to 50% in five years, according to data from Indeed.

Many companies are adapting to the shift in society in order to welcome a more relaxed environment. Big corporations like Goldman Sachs, Apple and Google have even announced their change to a more casual dress code, allowing workers to feel like “their authentic selves” at work.

Some Universities are hard on students because they believe that their policies are preparing them for the corporate world. However, the field has opened up to a multitude of different jobs, so certain majors should not be allowed to put students in a box. They may be in the same field but not all are aiming toward the same career.

Amoni Perryman, a business administration graduate at FAMU, said that she has noticed employers providing a more casual workplace and she supports that.

“I can appreciate a good suit, but I like the direction in which businesses are going. I can show more character and personality,” said Perryman.

Jeans and t-shirts are not appropriate for serious environments, but campus is definitely not the place for a formal black tie. Schools and universities should alter dress code policies for certain majors that allow for personal expression, while maintaining professionalism.